Proposal Basic

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Proposal Basic

A proposal is a document used to apply for sponsored program funds.  Most agencies have specific requirements for proposals being submitted for funding.  Program announcements for specific programs often include detailed requirements.  Although there is no such thing as a generic proposal, a number of major components do recur throughout most proposals. These major elements are: (Note, all these components may not be needed)

Cover Page

The cover page summarizes important identifying information: the proposal title; the name, address and telephone number of the project director; the agency and program name for the submission; the project's beginning and ending dates; and the budget request.


A well-written abstract encapsulates the entire proposal, conveying the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the proposed project.


The introduction draws the reviewer into the proposal, outlining the project and its intent.

Statement of Work

This section describes the need for the project, goals, objectives, and the hypothesis or research questions.  The statement of goals presents the vision of the worth and overall contribution of the proposed project. The statement of objectives should be presented in measurable, quantifiable terms.


Describe the methods uses to achieve the desired outcomes.  It is helpful, and often a requirement, to create a time line for the activities which constitute the method or approach to persuade reviewers that the Principal Investigator is organized and able to manage the complex demands of a project.


Budget estimates should reflect all the costs related to fundable activities in the project and can be divided into personnel and non-personnel costs.  Budgets are an estimate of a fully costed proposal.

Budget Narrative/Justification

The budget narrative provides an explanation of how the figures cited in the budget were calculated and what is included in each budget category.


The method of evaluation should measure the project's stated objectives to determine its progress and success.  Interim or formative evaluations will help fine-tune the project as it moves along.  The summative evaluation at the conclusion of the project will assess the final outcome.


A brief conclusion will reiterate the significance and the purpose of the project and will invite the funder to join with the Principal Investigator in ensuring its accomplishment.


Each sponsor will have their own preferences and limitation.  Typical attachments may include a curriculum vitae, current and pending support, letters of support, statistical tables, cost documentation for equipment, audited financial statements, a current list of the University's Board of Trustees, the statement of 501( c )3 status, the University's letter of incorporation, and the signed federally negotiated indirect cost rate.