How to Move Through the Proposal-Writing Process
Monmouth College provides support, outlined below, to faculty, coaches and staff applying for grants. This document is primarily intended for faculty and staff pursuing grant opportunities for individual purposes, but it should help guide teams as they pursue grant opportunities together.
All applications for external funding for equipment, student workers and research assistants, matching funds and/or in-kind services, leaves of absence, supplemental summer salary, and similar items must be cleared by the Dean of the College and the Business Office before submission. In other words, the College needs to know well in advance about any grant proposal that, if awarded, would require financial commitment and action on the part of the Business Office, Physical Plant, and/or Academic Affairs Office and relevant academic departments - for example, in hiring a temporary replacement in the department or in securing matching funds.
Applications for summer workshops, institutes, seminars and residencies - and other research opportunities that do not impinge on the operation of the College and its faculty and staff (beyond the applicant him- or herself) - do not require prior approval. You may still wish to let your department chair and the Dean know, as they may have connections to additional resources or tips for the application process that would be helpful to you. They can also help publicize your accomplishment in the event of the award!
If you know the foundation or agency to which you intend to apply:
Begin the proposal drafting process.
If your grant is likely to affect your department in some way (through a leave of absence, curricular innovation or new equipment needs, for example), you should talk with your department chair and the Dean early in the brainstorming process. You may wish to (but do not have to) contact the Director of the Grants Program to let her know that you are interested in applying for funding from a foundation or agency. You may want to share with her your information about the foundation or agency website, application process, deadlines, and proposal requirements. In any case, you should review the process, eligibility requirements, content requirements and deadlines very carefully yourself.
The worksheet "Memo of Interest in Applying for External Funding" (which is NOT a mandatory step in applying for external funding), can be useful in the very early stages of your planning process. Because this form is a worksheet, you may find it helpful to complete it at the brainstorming, initial-proposal-drafting stage. This worksheet can then serve as the basis for preliminary planning conversations with your department chair, faculty project partners, and the Dean. You will find the form here.
If you are seeking an NSF grant or funding from another federal agency, initiate contact with the appropriate program director at the NSF or other government agency. Make an appointment with the Director of the Grants Program to give her the necessary information enabling her to set up a proposal account for you in the FastLane or Grants.gov system. You will need to set up such an account through Monmouth as the institutional sponsor to submit a proposal to a federal agency.
If the grant or fellowship requires an institutional nomination or a letter of endorsement from the chief academic officer, contact the Dean of the Faculty as early in the process as possible to let him know of your interest in being nominated and/or the necessity of an endorsement letter. Give the Dean the specifics of the process and the deadlines for nomination, etc.
NEH, NEA, the PKAL Faculty for the 21st Century program, Japan Study, and many other grant and fellowship opportunities (especially in the humanities and social sciences) require an institutional nomination or affirmation of support from the office of academic affairs. Be aware!
If the proposal requires letters of recommendation from colleagues as well as letters of institutional support from dean and/or president, contact your recommenders now to secure their assent and to inform them of the basic shape of your proposal, deadlines, etc. (Fulbright applications, for example, require letters of recommendation to be uploaded by their authors by a specific date).
If you have a project but have not identified a foundation or agency for which the project might be eligible for funding:
Talk with colleagues in your department and at other colleges and universities about funding options. Check the Grant Advisor Plus and Grants.gov websites (and other similar resources) for funding opportunities. You may meet with the Director of the Grants Program to brainstorm funding possibilities and search strategies.
Once you have identified a foundation or agency to which to apply, you are welcome to make an appointment with the Director of the Grants Program to review the application process (procedures, deadlines and proposal requirements).
Complete the Monmouth Paperwork:
If you intend to request funding for equipment, student workers and student research partners, matching funds and/or in-kind services, a leave of absence, supplemental summer salary, or similar items requiring action and financial/reporting/IRS commitments on the part of the College if the proposal were to be funded, you will need to complete the Monmouth College Declaration of Intent to Apply for External Funding Form (available in PDF here).
Fill out the Monmouth College Declaration of Intent to Apply for External Funding form as fully as you can at this stage in the grant-application process (parts of the proposal may become more clear as you proceed) and obtain the necessary signatures from the Dean, the Vice-President for Business, and your department chair. Submit the Form to the Dean’s Office, with copies to the Business Office and the Grants Program Office. Retain a copy for your records.
Write the proposal:
The Director of the Grants Program can assist you, if you wish and if institutional proposal deadlines allow, by reviewing and editing your drafts, reviewing and editing information in on-line application systems, helping you to gather necessary institutional information, and providing DUNS and TIN numbers. The Director of the Grants Program must provide the institutional signature for completion of the on-line FastLane and Grants.gov submission process. She is the College’s Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) and must be the person to hit the submit button in order for your proposal to move forward to the NSF (and within the Grants.gov system, as well). If the Director is not available, the Vice President for Development and the Comptroller in the Business Office also have AOR signing authority.
You are most welcome to contact the Director of the Grants Program early in your application process to talk with her about your research idea, your timeline, and your anticipated drafting process. She would be pleased to review drafts and to assist in the writing of the narrative portions of the proposal. She can help you make your way through the NSF FastLane and grants.gov systems.
Review the proposal budget and grant-management procedures with the Business Office:
Check carefully with Deb Clark, Comptroller in the Business Office, about the financial aspects of your grant proposal (budget, overhead, in-kind contributions, summer salary and benefits, student employment, etc). The Director of the Grants Program can assist you and will have institutional information about overhead percentages and student employment, etc., but it is best to have a face-to-face meeting with Ms. Clark to make sure that all financial arrangements are as they should be. Many humanities and social science grants stipulate overhead percentages (if any are allowed). Any money coming into the College from an external source will go through the Business Office, so this conversation about how best to set up the grant account is critical.
Submit the proposal:
Double-check every step of an on-line process. Hit the submit button. Save the submit-confirmed notification.
Be sure to touch base with the Director of the Grants Program if there is an AOR submit procedure that is triggered by your submission. Save the submit-confirmed notification.
If the proposal is funded:
Congratulations! Share the good news with the Dean, your department chair, and the Director of the Grants Program. Inform Ms. Clark, Comptroller, that funding will be received. Remember, the business office has a mantra: there is no grant until it receives a Monmouth budget account number. You can’t draw on the funds until you set up arrangements with the business office. Review the timeline and reporting requirements with Ms. Clark.
All P.O.s should be submitted to the executive assistant to the dean (Leah McLaren), who will forward them to Ms. Clark.
Budget and Personnel:
Deb Clark, Comptroller, will help you set up an account that will enable you to track the budget throughout the grant period (see PDF memo on establishing an account). You should review the grant budget on a monthly basis, at least. You will be able to draw funds from this account. You will have open access to the grant account through your Outlook system.
The Payroll/Personnel Officer, Debbie Anderson, will help you arrange summer stipends for students. You cannot directly request summer pay for yourself: ask for a letter from your department chair (or, if you are chair, from the Dean) authorizing the summer salary.
Remember to Double-check reporting requirements:
You are responsible for all interim and final reports; the Business Office can help you with budget reports; the Development Office will assist with the narrative portions of the reports.
If the proposal is declined:
Seek feedback from proposal reviewers; ask for feedback if it is not routinely made available. If you wish, review the proposal and the guidelines with a colleague in your discipline who has received a similar grant in the past, a faculty mentor, and/or the Director of the Grants Program and prepare for another try. Remember, most proposals are not funded – competition for external funding for academic projects is very high. But nothing ventured, nothing gained. And, as successful grant-getters will tell you, the very process of writing a proposal for funding can clarify and further your academic project, making funding for the next application more likely.
Updated: July 6, 2010