Proposal Development

Funding agencies utilize a variety of methods to provide instructions on how proposals should be prepared for their review and consideration. This guidance can be in the form of one of the following mechanisms:

Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) The document that is used by a Federal Agency to announces its intentions to award discretionary grants or cooperative agreements based on a competitive process. 

Solicitation - Any request to submit offers or quotations to the Government. Solicitations under negotiated procedures are called, “requests for proposals.” Solicitations under a simplified acquisition procedure may require submission of either a quotation or an offer.

Request for Proposal (RFP)– An RFP is typically open to a broad range of organizations, creating open competition. When a government entity or foundations issue a new contract or grant program, it sends out an RFP to organizations that might be qualified to carry out the service.  The RFP will list out the program specifications and application procedures.

Requests for Applications (RFA) -An RFA solicits grant or cooperative agreement applications in a well-defined area to accomplish a specific program objective.

Program Announcement (PA)- PAs are broad funding opportunity announcements for new or ongoing activities or programs. It may serve as a reminder of continuing interest in a research area, describe modification in an activity or program, and/or invite applications for grant support.

Requests for Quotes (RFQs)-An RFQ is a procurement solicitation for bids on specific products or services. RFQs are best suited for commercial projects. An RFQ is typically used to obtain pricing for a specific number of well-defined items.

Regardless of the mechanism, it is important to follow the instructions when preparing your application. 

Your plans or goals should be written in a clear and concise manner. 

  • Be original and innovative.
  • Explain the significance of the work to be undertaken.
  • Be sure that what you propose is possible and plausible. 
  • Follow instructions, use recommended headings, and stay within the page limits.
  • Proofread several times for errors and be sure to execute a spell check.

The sponsor will review each part of your application to determine the applicant’s capability to meet the project objectives and the feasibility of achieving the project goals based on the requested budget. 

Budget Preparation 

A budget is requested by the sponsor to verify that the total project cost is reasonable and necessary to carry out the proposed project. Carefully review the grant guidelines to determine the costs that can be charged to the budget. All costs included in the budget must be allowable, reasonable and allocable for the proposed activities.  All budgets should include the appropriate institutional rates.

Budgets generally contain direct and indirect costs. Direct costs are the line items needed to carry out the project. The following are generally considered direct costs: 

Salaries and Wages- Compensation should be based on the percent of time the Claflin University employee will spend on the project. Person-months is the measurement that is often used to determine the amount of effort that is being devoted to the project. Effort is calculated based on the type of appointment; e.g., calendar year (CY), academic year (AY), and/or summer months (SM). The Effort Salary Calculator can provide assistance with determining the appropriate salary to charge to the project.  Salary requests for non- Claflin University individuals should be listed under the category of “Consultants”.

Fringe benefits- Expenses directly associated with employment and are applicable to all Claflin University salaries and wages. Fringe benefits may vary based on how personnel are classified and include FICA, retirement, worker’s compensation, life insurance and health insurance. See the Fringe Benefit rates  to view the most current rates.

Materials and Supplies– Normally defined as general purpose consumable items that have a short life span in use, less than one year. General office supplies are not normally allowed in this category as the costs of general office supplies is normally included into the indirect cost recovery.  

Equipment– An article of nonexpendable tangible property having a useful life of more than one year, and an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more per unit. 

Travel– Domestic and/or foreign trips that are directly related to the project. Information on travel should include the destination (if known), who is traveling, and the number of trips along with a breakdown of airfare, hotel, ground transportation, and per diem.

Consultant – Professional services performed by an individual who is not employed or affiliated with Claflin University. The service is calculated based on an hourly or daily fee that is negotiated between the consultant and the principal investigator or project director. Consultant arrangements must be confirmed through a signed letter that contains the specific tasks to be performed and the associated fee. 

Sub-contract/sub-award agreements– A negotiated agreement with another organization to perform some of the project activities under the supervision of the principal investigator. These type of arrangements are put in place to help the principal investigator/project director with securing expertise not available at their own institution.  

Publications– costs for electronic or printed materials to include such documents as books, research papers, journals, or catalogs.   

Alterations/Renovations– Large scale structural changes for building infrastructure and/or utility systems.

Participant Support Costs–Direct costs for items such as stipends or subsistence allowances, travel allowances, and registration fees paid to or on behalf of participants or trainees (but not employees) in connection with conferences, or training projects (2 CFR 200.75).

Other Costs– This category is for other costs that do not fall within any of the categories define above. This could include tuition for graduate students or incentives for participating in a research study. 

Facilities and Administrative Costs (F&A) (a.k.a.Indirect costs) – Costs that benefit a common or joint objective and cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular sponsored program, instructional activity or institutional activity. (e.g., utilities, rent, administrative and clerical staff, lab operations and maintenance, research administration and accounting).

Cost Sharing/Match/In-Kind – Under certain circumstances, it may be appropriate or required to share the costs of a project.  Cost sharing/match/in-kind requirements must be discussed with the department dean and chair well in advance of the proposal deadline. 

Whenever cost sharing is proposed as part of a sponsored project, the source of funds must be identified and approval obtained from the person with authority to commit those funds. Funds to be provided by entities outside of Claflin University, typically referred to as “third-party” cost sharing, must be supported at the proposal stage by written documentation from the outside entity indicating their commitment to provide cost sharing. Cost sharing funds are actually made available to the Project Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) when/if the proposal results in a sponsored award.

All cost share/match/in-kind made to the project by Claflin University must be reviewed and approved by the Division of Fiscal Affairs. 

Budget Justification - A detailed narrative that explains each cost identified in the budget. A budget justification should contain enough detail for the sponsor to verify the appropriateness of the costs. Sponsors reserve the right to revise and or cut the budget if this document does not provide enough information to support the request for funding.  

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