Where to Start
Welcome to our proposal writing guide for faculty and staff. This guide walks you through the process of becoming a principal investigator (PI), or project manager for a grant, and provides information about UCC policies on grant writing and administration. We want this process to be as simple as possible so we welcome your comments on how to improve our web pages and policy and procedures. Contact Susan Taylor at Susan.Taylor(at)umpqua.edu or 440-7784.
Step # 1 - PRE-PLANNING
Grant writing is one step, the last step, in a long planning and program development process.
Before you start looking for a grant to support your project or program, do your homework. Know what you want to do. Don’t wait for grant announcements or request for proposals that might be close to your area of interest. Before you begin planning your project or program, consult with your department chair, dean, or vice president. Make sure your idea fits your departmental, institutional and personal development plans.
The Grant Development Office (GDO) is also prepared to assist in proposal idea development. Contact Susan Taylor for more information.
Step # 2 – SEARCHING FOR FUNDING SOURCES
Search for funding sources that fit what you want to do, not vice versa. See the Grant Development Office’s web pages on Links to Funding Sources and the UCC Grantsmanship Library. Also note that there are some internal sources of funding for research and creative activities. The GDO has access to a sophisticated grant search engine, so feel free to contact Susan Taylor if you need help finding a lead on funding sources.
Once you have identified some potential funding sources, you are ready for the next step.
Step # 3 – PRE-APPLICATION MEETING WITH GRANT DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR
Contact the Grant Development Office to set up a planning meeting with the grant project team. A short meeting will clarify roles, internal and external deadlines, who should be included, and what the process involves. The purpose of the meeting is to determine that your proposed project or funding source is not already targeted by the college. It also ensures that we do not submit conflicting or competing proposals to the same funding source, or proposals that compromise long term fund raising activities.
If that funding source is already committed, you will be assisted in identifying other possible funding sources.
Step # 4 – WRITING THE GRANT
Most funding sources are VERY specific about what they want, and how they want it.
# 1 Grant Writing Tip – read the instructions, and follow them!
Talk to the program officer that oversees the grant program. Program officers will vary in their ability and/or willingness to help you, but use them to the greatest extent they will allow.
Please make sure that you allow plenty of time to write the grant application and gather the appropriate supporting data and documents so that you do not miss the deadline for submission.
Also be aware that you cannot submit your proposal without institutional approval, and that the final draft must be submitted to the Grant Development Office ten working days before the submission deadline. See Step # 6 below.
Don’t do it alone. Assemble a team to work with you. You may need expertise in some areas of the application that you don’t have (such as evaluation, statistics, etc.). Applications that reflect partnerships often have higher priority.
Get copies of funded proposals to see what the funder thinks a good proposal looks like. The Grant Development Office can assist you here. Check the funder’s website for their guide to grant writing.
Review the Grant Development Office’s web site for information and links to a host of other resources that may help you.
Ask anyone who is willing to read drafts to review and comment for you. The Grant Development Office will also review and edit the proposal and budget.
Step # 5 - INSTITUTIONAL GRANT SUBMISSION APPROVAL
Once your grant application is in final draft form, email the Grant Development Office (susan.taylor(at)umpqua.edu) and attach your draft proposal/application ten working days before the submission deadline. This is standard operating procedure for college grant offices; it is to allow enough time for appropriate edits, additions and clarifications. The GDO must consult with the Budget Office on grant proposals. The Grant Development Office and/or Budget Office will notify you of edits to be made until the final draft is complete. If you have less than ten days of lead time on a proposal, contact the GDO immediately to work out a timeline.
Step # 6 - SUBMISSION
STOP! The only authorized signatures for a grant proposal or application are the President and the Vice President of Administrative Services. With authorization from the president, the grant development coordinator submits federal grants. You may not sign off on your own proposal since grant awards enter the college into a binding contract.
The PI is responsible for providing materials to the Grant Development Office for submission. The GDO will secure the required signatures and submit the final copy. In the case of electronic submissions, the PI uploads and prepares the application. The GDO then reviews and approves the application one final time, and submits the final copy.
Step # 7 - WAIT
Now you wait. It may take several months before a decision is made, depending on the funding source. Start working on your next grant, or find a different funding source to which you can submit the same grant. Once the funder makes a decision, a notice may be sent by the funder to the PI and/or the President. Notify the Grant Development Office immediately if you receive such a notice.
Step # 8 – CONGRATULATIONS…POST AWARD ACTIVITIES
If your grant is approved, the college will receive an agreement or contract that will be signed by the VP for Administrative Services or Foundation Director. You will work with the GDO to review both UCC’s and the funder’s policies on grant administration and accounting, and plan for meeting in a timely manner all ongoing or final reporting requirements, and all agreements in general as to deliverables. Special account codes will be established for your grant. The Finance Office will draw funds from the funding source according to their policy and deposit it in your account. Contact the budget coordinator for instructions on how to spend down your grant funds.
Another important, but often overlooked aspect of post award grant management is planning for your next grant! Plan ahead. Don’t wait until you are finished with one before you start thinking about the next.
Alternative Step # 8 – IF NOT SUCCESSFUL…START OVER
Due to limited funding and high levels of competition, success rates on first applications for most government programs are less than 20 percent. However, the success rate on subsequent applications increases because the government (and most private funding sources) will tell you how you can improve it. You will often get the grant reviewer’s comments in writing. If not, ask for it. With this feedback, you can revise, improve and resubmit your proposal in the next funding cycle. Go back to Step # 1 and start over. Think long term.