There are thousands of private foundations in Europe, the Americas, Asia, and the Middle East.
Private Foundations (2)
To identify private foundations:
Research such books as the Foundation Directory or the International Handbook of Associations;
Talk with your colleagues;
Search the Internet; and,
Read scholarly journals and pay attention to who sponsored the research.
Proposals to Private Foundations (3)
Proposals to foundations have a better chance of succeeding if they are preceded by an informal contact.
This contact is usually a brief letter outlining the proposed project, and could lead to a meeting to discuss the project further.
This letter of inquiry is crucially important.
Proposals to Private Foundations (4)
Most foundations have specific areas of interest for which they award funds.
It is essential that the grant seeker identify those foundations whose interests match the proposed project.
Proposals to Private Foundations (5)
The initial letter of inquiry should demonstrate that the investigator is acquainted with the work and purposes of the foundation being approached.
Proposals to Private Foundations (6)
The letter should point out the significance of the project and include:
Who will benefit?
Who cares about the results?
What difference will it make if the project is not funded?
An indication that the project has been thought through.
A demonstration of the writer's grasp of the subject and credentials to undertake the project.
It will emphasize that this is a preliminary inquiry and that the investigator will send further details if the foundation wishes, or, if possible visit the foundation to discuss the project in depth.
Proposals to Private Foundations (7)
Directories and other general sources of information usually indicate a foundation’s areas of interests
More detailed guidance can be gleaned from the foundation's annual reports and from the list of projects that the foundation has actually supported.
Proposals to Private Foundations (8)
In general, foundations are interested in innovative projects that are:
(1) relevant to pressing national or regional problems;
(2) relevant to new methods in education;
(3) capable of serving as a model or stimulus for further or related work in its general area;
(4) capable of being continued after the end of the funding period without further assistance from the foundation; and,
(5) not eligible for funding by governmental agencies or the investigator's own institution.
International Organizations and NGOs
The United Nations and International Organizations do provide grants, though not usually for research.
The local offices of these organizations often solicit assistance. Increasing emphasis on monitoring and evaluation, especially impact evaluation provides a major role for the universities in the West Bank and Gaza.
What is a Proposal?
A confidence builder, a persuasive tool
It convinces people with funds (who don’t know you) that you are worth funding
After the award, the proposal often becomes part of the contract – so be careful of what you promise.
A plan of action
The proposal spells out what you are going to do and when you are going to do it.
Common Types of Proposals (1)
Proposals submitted in response to a specific solicitation issued by a sponsor.
Typically called Request for Proposals (RFP), or Request for Quotations (RFQ)
Usually specific in their requirements regarding format and technical content, and may stipulate certain award terms and conditions.
Common Types of Proposals (2)
Submitted to a sponsor that has not issued a specific solicitation
The sponsor is believed by the investigator to have an interest in the subject.
Common Types of Proposals (3)
Requested when a sponsor wishes to minimize an applicant's effort in preparing a full proposal.
Preproposals are usually in the form of a letter of intent, brief abstract, or concept paper.
After the preproposal is reviewed, the sponsor notifies the investigator if a full proposal is warranted.
Common Types of Proposals (4)
Continuation or Non-Competing proposals
Confirm an original proposal and funding requirements of a multi-year project for which the sponsor has already provided funding for an initial period (normally one year). Continued support is usually contingent on satisfactory work progress and the availability of funds.
Common Types of Proposals (5)
Renewal or competing proposals
Requests for continued support for an existing project that is about to terminate, and, from the sponsor's viewpoint, generally have the same status as an unsolicited proposal.
Research vs. Project Proposals
A research proposal emphasizes the contribution that the research will make to the field.
A project proposal emphasizes the impact the activity will have.
Evaluation is more usually more important in project proposals.
Elements of the Proposal
What do you want to do, how much will it cost, and how much time will it take?
How does it relate to sponsor’s interest?
What difference will the project make?
What has already been done in the area of your project?
How do you plan to do it?
How will the results be evaluated?
Why should you, rather than someone else, do this project?
Parts of a Research Proposal
Title (or Cover) Page
Table of Contents
Description of Proposed Research
Description of Relevant Institutional Resources
List of References
Adapted from: Proposal Writer's Guide By Don Thackrey, University of Michigan.
The format is often specified by the funding agency
The principal investigator, department head, and university official usually sign
Name of organization being submitted to
Title of the proposal
Starting date and budget period
Total funds requested
Name and address of institution
The title page should be professional looking, but do not use fancy covers, bindings, etc.
A good title
The title is important. It should reflect the focus of your project.
The most important words should come first.
Avoid words that add nothing to a reader’s understanding such as “Studies on…,” Investigations..,” or “Research on Some Problems in…”
Hints for Title Page
A good title is brief
For example, this title -
Title #1 - The Systematic Development of a Local Initiative to Create a Learning Center for Community Education can be shortened to -
Title #2 - A Local Learning Center for Community Education
GUIDE FOR WRITING A FUNDING PROPOSAL. S. Joseph Levine, Ph.D. Michigan State University East Lansing, Michigan, USA.
Table of Contents
Very brief proposals with few sections ordinarily do not need a table of contents
Long and detailed proposals may require, in addition to a table of contents, a list of illustrations (or figures) and a list of tables.
The table of contents should list all major parts and divisions (including the abstract, even though it precedes the table of contents).
Every proposal should have one
In project proposals this is called the Executive Summary
It should be written last
The abstract should summarize the project
It is the most important part of the proposal
Start with a capsule statement of what is being proposed.
You should not assume that your reader is familiar with your subject. It should be comprehensible to an informed layman. It should give enough background to enable him to place your research problem in a context of common knowledge and should show how its solution will advance the field or be important for some other work.
Do not to overstate, but do state very specifically what the importance of your research is.
If the detailed exposition of the proposed research will be long or complex, the introduction may well end by specifying the order and arrangement of the sections.
The general tone of the introduction should be self-confident, but not exuberant. Enthusiasm is not out of place, but extravagant promises are anathema to most reviewers.
This section may not be necessary if the proposal is relatively simple and if the introduction can present the relevant background in a few sentences.
If previous or related work must be discussed in some detail, however, or if the literature of the subject must be reviewed, a background or literature review section is desirable.
Literature reviews should be selective and critical.
Reviewers only want to know pertinent works and your evaluation of them.
A list of works with no clear evidence that you have studied them and have opinions about them contributes almost nothing to the proposal.
Description of Proposed Research (1)
This section of the proposal is the comprehensive explanation of the proposed research
It is addressed to other specialists in your field.
It is the heart of the proposal and the primary concern of technical reviewers.
Description of Proposed Research (2)
The description may need several subsections. The description should include:
Aims or Objectives
Description of Proposed Research (3)
Be realistic in designing the program of work.
Research plans should be scaled down to a specific and manageable project.
Description of Proposed Research (4)
The proposal should distinguish clearly between long-range research goals and the short-range objectives for which funding is being sought.
Often it is best to begin this section with a short series of explicit statements listing each objective, in quantitative terms if possible.
Description of Proposed Research (5)
If your first year must be spent developing an analytical method or laying groundwork, spell that out as Phase 1. Then at the end of the year you will be able to report that you have accomplished something and are ready to undertake Phase 2.
Description of Proposed Research (6)
Be explicit about any assumptions or hypotheses the research method rests upon.
Be clear about the focus of the research. In defining the limits of the project, especially in exploratory or experimental work, it is helpful to pose the specific question or questions the project is intended to answer.
Description of Proposed Research (7)
Be as detailed as possible about the schedule of the proposed work.
Include a schedule and calendar of events.
Description of Proposed Research (8)
Be specific about the means of evaluating the data or the conclusions. Try to imagine the questions or objections of a hostile critic and show that the research plan anticipates them.
Description of Proposed Research (9)
Be certain that the connection between the research objectives and the research method is evident.
If a reviewer fails to see this connection, he will probably not give your proposal any further consideration.
Description of Relevant Institutional Resources
This section details the resources available to the proposed project.
Include the institution's demonstrated competence in the pertinent research area, its abundance of experts in related areas, its supportive services that will benefit the project, and its unique or unusual research facilities or instruments available to the project.
List of References
If a list of references is to be included, it is placed at the end of the text proper and before the sections on personnel and budget.
The style of the bibliographical item itself depends on the disciplinary field.
Be consistent! Whatever style is chosen should be followed throughout.
The personnel section usually consists of two parts:
an explanation of the proposed personnel arrangements; and,
biographical data sheets for each of the main contributors to the project.
Specify how many persons at what percentage of time and in what academic categories will be participating in the project.
If the program is complex and involves people from other departments or colleges, the organization of the staff and the lines of responsibility should be made clear.
Any student participation, paid or unpaid, should be mentioned, and the nature of the proposed contribution detailed.
If any persons must be hired for the project, say so, and explain why, unless the need for persons not already available within the University is self-evident.
The biographical data sheets should follow immediately after the explanatory text of the " personnel" section, unless the agency guidelines specify a different format.
For extremely large program proposals with eight or more participants, the data sheets may be given separately in an appendix.
All biographical data sheets within the proposal should be in a common format.
These sheets should be confined to relevant information. Data on marital status, children, hobbies, civic activities, etc., should not be included unless the sponsor's instructions call for them.
The list of publications can be selected either for their pertinence to the proposed work or for their intrinsic worth. All books written and a selection of recent or important journal articles written may be listed, but there is no need to fill several pages with a bibliography.
Budgets are developed according to sponsors and university guidelines. This section is an overview of common features.
Depending on complexity, the budget section may require not only a tabular budget with line items, but may also require a budget summary and explanation or (budget justification or budget notes).
Typical divisions of a budget are:
Other categories can be added as needed.
The budget should make clear how the totals for each category of expenses are reached.
Salary information is particularly sensitive. It should be specified in detail: principal investigator (1/2 time for 3 months at $24,000 [9-month appointment]) = $4,000.
The category of personnel includes not only the base salary or wage for each person to be employed by the project but also (listed separately) the percentage added for staff benefits.
Any costs absorbed by the University should be shown as cost sharing.
Indirect costs are shown as a separate category, usually as the last item before the grand total. Indirect costs are usually figured as a fixed percentage of total direct costs – but this is a subject that bedevils investigators and sponsors alike.
Cost sharing is required by many sponsors.
It can be shown as a separate column.
Frequently a portion of the salary of the principal investigator, paid from University funds, can be used to satisfy cost-sharing requirements.
Following is a budget checklist. It is illustrative only, to call attention to the variety of expenses that might arise in the conduct of a research project
Different sponsors have different budget requirements. Pay careful attention to their guidelines.
Checklist for Proposal Budget Items (1)
A. Salaries and Wages
1. Academic personnel 2. Research assistants 3. Stipends (training grants only) 4. Consultants 5. Interviews 6. Computer programmer 7. Tabulators 8. Secretaries 9. Clerk-typists 10. Editorial assistants 11. Technicians 12. Subjects 13. Hourly personnel 14. Staff benefits 15. Salary increases in proposals that extend into a new year 16. Vacation accrual and/or use
1. Space rental 2. Alterations and renovations 3. Purchase of periodicals and books 4. Patient reimbursement 5. Tuition and fees (training grants) 6. Hospitalization 7. Page charges 8. Subcontracts
G. Indirect Costs
Reviewers almost never read appendices - and they may resent the padding. The best rule of thumb is:
When in doubt, leave it out.
Appendices to proposals are occasionally used for letters of endorsement or promises of participation, biographical data sheets and reprints of relevant articles.
If two or more appendices are included in a proposal, they should be designated Appendix A, Appendix B, etc.
Non-Research Grants (1)
You might not be applying for a research grant, but for outside sponsorship of an academic program involving a new curriculum, a conference, a summer seminar, or a training activity. As in a research proposal, your best guide is to consult any guidelines that the sponsoring agency provides. In the event that none is available, however, the following outline may be followed.
Non-Research Grants (2)
As in the Research Proposal, begin the proposal with an Executive Summary .
This should be followed by an Introduction, which includes a clear statement of need.
Non-Research Grants (3)
The Background section, describing the local situation and developmental activities to date, should begin the request.
A Program Description should come next. This section contains elements common to the research proposal. It lists the courses or instructional sessions to be offered, the interrelationship of parts, and the program leading to certification or a degree. It discusses the students or participants to be selected and served by the program, as well as plans for faculty retreats, negotiation with cooperating institutions, released time to write instructional materials, and so on.
Non-Research Grants (4)
Follow the Program Description with a section on Institutional Commitment .
Clarify here the agreements made by various departments and cooperating institutions
Detail the willingness of your institution to carry on the program once it has proven itself is certified. (Sustainability)
This section is crucial to the success of curriculum development programs.
Non-Research Grants (5)
Complete the proposal with Institutional Resources, Personnel , and Budget sections, as in the research proposal.
Style Tips (1)
Match the style to the reader.
Use everyday English.
Be politically correct.
Explain new ideas clearly.
Style Tips (2)
Phrasing and sentences
Keep away from stock phrases
Keep sentences and paragraphs short
Style Tips (3)
Use short words
Avoid legal words and pomposity.
Avoid neutral words.
Beware of ambiguous words.
Avoid tautology and redundant words.
Use concrete not abstract nouns.
Use active not passive verbs.
Style Tips (4)
Your choice of words
Style Tips (5)
Make it look readable (1)
Check the layout
Make it look readable (2)
Charts and graphs
For component comparison use pie charts.
For item comparison use bar charts.
For time series comparison use column charts or line charts.
For frequency distribution use column charts.
For frequency distribution use column charts.
For correlation use bar charts or dot charts.
Make it look readable (3)
Workflows charts: to show how people or work moves around a location
Schematic flow charts: for an overview of the stages of a process or project.
Detailed flow charts: to show how work moves around between functions.
Beginning and End
Include in your proposal or report:
title page with title and author
Consider using the following
further addresses etc.
Why Proposals are Rejected (1) From University of Michigan Proposal Writer's Guide by Don Thackrey
The following is based on a list of short-comings of 605 proposals rejected by the (US) National Institutes of Health.
The list is derived from an article by Dr. Ernest M. Allen (Chief of the Division of Research Grants, National Institutes of Health) that appeared in Science, Vol. 132 (November 25, 1960), pp. 1532-34. (The percentages given total more than 100 because more than one item may have been cited for a particular proposal.)
Why Proposals are Rejected (2)
A. Problem (58 percent)
The problem is not of sufficient importance or is unlikely to produce any new or useful information. (33.1)
The proposed research is based on a hypothesis that rests on insufficient evidence, is doubtful, or is unsound. (8.9)
The problem is more complex than the investigator appears to realize. (8.1)
The problem has only local significance, or is one of production or control, or otherwise fails to fall sufficiently clearly within the general field of health-related research. (4.8)
Why Proposals are Rejected (3)
The problem is scientifically premature and warrants, at most, only a pilot study. (3.1)
The research as proposed is overly involved, with too many elements under simultaneous investigation. (3.0)
The description of the nature of the research and of its significance leaves the proposal nebulous and diffuse and without a clear research aim. (2.6)
Why Proposals are Rejected (4)
B. Approach (73 percent)
The proposed tests, or methods, or scientific procedures are unsuited to the stated objective. (34.7)
The description of the approach is too nebulous, diffuse, and lacking in clarity to permit adequate evaluation. (28.8)
The overall design of the study has not been carefully thought out. (14.7)
The statistical aspects of the approach have not been given sufficient consideration. (8.1 )
Why Proposals are Rejected (5)
The approach lacks scientific imagination. (7.4)
Controls are either inadequately conceived or inadequately described. (6.8)
The material the investigator proposes to use is unsuited to the objective of the study or is difficult to obtain. (3.8)
The number of observations is unsuitable. (2.5)
The equipment contemplated is outmoded or otherwise unsuitable. (1.0)
Why Proposals are Rejected (6)
C. Investigator (55 percent)
The investigator does not have adequate experience or training for this research. (32.6)
The investigator appears to be unfamiliar with recent pertinent literature or methods. (13.7)
The investigator's previously published work in this field does not inspire confidence. (12.6)
Why Proposals are Rejected (7)
The investigator proposes to rely too heavily on insufficiently experienced associates. (5.0)
The investigator is spreading himself too thin; he will be more productive if he concentrates on fewer projects. (3.8)
The investigator needs more liaison with colleagues in this field or in collateral fields. (1.7)
Why Proposals are Rejected (8)
The D. Other (16 percent)
Requirements for equipment or personnel are unrealistic. (10.1)
It appears that other responsibilities would prevent devotion of sufficient time and attention to this research. (3.0)
The institutional setting is unfavorable. (2.3)
Research grants to the investigator, now in force, are adequate in scope and amount to cover the proposed research. (1.5)
Web Sites with Proposal Guides
AAFRC Trust for Philanthropy http://www. aafrc .org
Council on Foundations http:// cof .org
Foundation Center Online Proposal Writing Short Course http://www. fdncenter .org/ onlib /prop.html
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Basic Elements of Grant Writing. http://www. cpb .org/grants
The Frontiers in Bioscience (FBS). Tips for Writing Grant Proposals. http://www.bioscience.org/current/grant.html
Web Sites with Proposal Guides
The National Science Foundation. A Guide to Proposal Writing. http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/1998/nsf9891/nsf9891.html
The Social Science Research Council. Art of Writing Proposals. http://www. ssrc .org/ artprop .html
James Madison University. Overview of the Grant Writing Process. http://www.jmu.edu/sponsprog/tips2.html
Funding and Proposal Writing for Social Science Faculty Research. http://www. unc . edu / depts / irss /writing.html
University of Idaho Grant Directory http://radon.chem. uidaho . edu /~ pmits /grants
University of Michigan Proposal Writer's Guide http://www.research. umich . edu /research/proposals/proposal_dev/ pwg / pwgpage .html
Guidebooks There are many. A few include…
Burns, M. (1993). Proposal writer's guide. Hartford, CN: Development and Technical Assistance Center.
Hall, M. (1988). Getting funded: A complete guide to proposal writing. Portland, OR: Continuing Education Publications. Portland State University.
Geever, J. (1997). The Foundation Center's guide to proposal writing. NY: Foundation Center.
Kritiz, N. (1980). Program planning and proposal writing. San Francisco, CA:
Sample Letter to Private Foundations (1)
A good letter, might begin something like the following: "Because of the interest the __________ Foundation has shown in __________, I am writing to solicit its support for a project that will __________." This should be followed by a sentence describing the program, the institution, and another one or two concerning the need for and uniqueness of the project.
Sample Letter to Private Foundations (2)
The body of the letter should consist of three or four paragraphs giving the context or background of the project, its scope and methodology, the time required for its completion, the institutional commitments, and any special capabilities that will ensure the project's success. A separate paragraph might be given to some of the major categories of the proposed budget, including a rounded total direct cost estimate, and mention of any matching fund or cost-sharing arrangements, either in dollars or in-kind contributions.
Sample Letter to Private Foundations (3)
The last paragraph could be patterned along these lines: "If the __________ Foundation is interested in learning more about this program, I will be happy to travel to __________ to discuss it in detail, or to submit a full proposal outlining my plans. My phone number in __________ is (___) _______ at work, and (___) _______ at home. I look forward to hearing from you soon."