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Proposal Development & Preparation

Roles and Responsibilities: Proposal Development

The Project Lead, also referred to as the Principal Investigator (PI) for proposals in the sciences and some other government grants: 

  1. secures institutional endorsement of the project from department chair or dean and academic administrator by using the Request to Initiate form;
  2. secures approval of final proposal draft from Office of Foundation Relations (OFR) for a corporate and foundation grants or from the Office of Sponsored Research fro government grants
  3. meets the objectives laid out in the grant application; 
  4. ensures that Bethel policies and procedures are followed during all phases of the project.

For faculty grant-seeking initiatives, the appropriate associate provost or the Provost:

  1. approve all proposals involving Bethel in any way; 
  2. approve and coordinate release time; 
  3. approve budgets including any matching fund requirements with budgetary impact;
  4. signs off on the final draft.

The Office of Foundation Relations or the Office of Sponsored Research and Projects

  1. works with the Office of the President in development of grant proposals that impact the university's highest institutional priorities;
  2. coordinates and regulates the flow of Bethel grant applications;
  3. meets with faculty/staff to discuss approved academic projects, with a view toward recommending potential sources of support;
  4. provides required institutional documentation (e.g., audited financial reports, IRS 501(c)(3) determination letter, etc.);
  5. maintains a record of proposals planned, submitted, rejected, and awarded, as well as copies of all Bethel-related submissions.

Idea stage

The idea stage is a great time to explore different funding opportunities for both new and existing programs or research that is relevant and beneficial to Bethel and its student body. The idea stage can be spurred by discovering a new funding opportunity that has been well defined through the request for proposal (RFP) posting, and realizing that Bethel could benefit from the particular research, project, or program that a foundation or government agency is looking to fund. In this case, work quickly with your department chair and/or dean to determine whether this opportunity is appropriate, taking into account the proposal deadline.

The idea stage can also include brainstorming program or research ideas that are most likely to be appealing to a foundation or granting agency. The idea stage can also include learning more about what general types of programs or research are typically most funded. Your contact person in the Office of Foundation Relations can help you with this research and brainstorming of ideas.

Building Your Project Plan

When seeking grant funding, it is important to build a well-defined project with activities (e.g., scholarly research, curricular improvements, writing, conferences, equipment purchase, etc.) that lead to specific goals. Goals are your vision for the program, and they help define what success will look like. Whenever possible, goals should be specific, measurable and time-sensitive. The first step in seeking funding for your project is to make sure the project has meaningful, well-defined goals that connect directly to the activities (or equipment) for which funding is being sought.

When your project is well defined, begin the grant-seeking process by completing the Request to Initiate form. University resources will not be expended on grant-funding projects until they have been appropriately approved via this form.

Once approved, the following resources and support services are available as appropriate to your project. Please note that, depending on the complexity of your project and funding request, the grant cycle typically takes 3-6 months-and sometimes up to 12 months.

Proposal Preparation

Foundation Grants

There are plenty of online resources to assist grant seekers at all levels of experience. The Foundation Relations Officer is also available to assist with the proposal preparation, and appointments may be made at all stages of proposal development, from the idea stage to final editing. The following links offer a variety of helpful training and support resources for corporate and foundation grant seeking:

Government Grants

Assistance is available for the proposal development process for government grants. The following links offer helpful information to assist in preparing government grant proposals:

Building Your Project Budget

While the budget is often the last thing project leaders tend to want to think about in great detail, the accuracy and credibility of your project budget can make or break a proposal's success. Building out a detailed project budget early in the proposal development stage is important for two reasons: budget information is needed for internal review and is also likely to be scrutinized by the grantor. When building out your budget, consider these questions first:

  • Is your budget realistic and based on accurate and up-to-date prices?
  • If a course release is being requested, has it been approved and have you investigated the added cost this will incur?
  • If personnel hours are included (temporary, part-time, full-time, stipends, an increase in current staff hours, etc.), have you included the necessary fringe benefits or other costs associated with the added tasks being performed as part of the project? Don't forget the added work hours it may take just to administer the project if it is new to the university or requires significant reporting or compliance.
    • Course releases that count toward teaching load; or staff positions considered full-time/benefits eligible: Must include 29.60% benefits charge. (Note that this rate changes on an annual basis; please verify with the Office of Sponsored Research and Projects or Foundation Relations.)
    • Salary that does not count toward teaching load or part-time staff positions (e.g., summer work, stipends, and non-benefits eligible part-time positions): Must include 14% benefits charge.
  • Does your budget include any necessary administrative costs such as copying, marketing materials, mailings, etc.?
  • Will there potentially be cost-sharing by the university? If so, how much of the project will be funded by the university and have you gained approval?
  • Have you included indirect costs?
    • Indirect Costs/Overhead/Facilities and Administration: Must include indirect costs when allowable by the funding agency or foundation. Bethel University's negotiated rate with the Federal Government is 54%. (If the funding agency or foundation does not use this negotiated rate, use the maximum rate allowed by the funding agency or foundation (usually 15%-20%).

The Minnesota Common Grant application includes a standard budget worksheet that can often be submitted to multiple grantors, and serves as a good budget template for those foundations that do not require this exact form.

MN Common Grant Budget Worksheet (doc) Note: This is a great template. Do not submit this form without approval from your grant contact.

Managing Your Project Budget (pdf)

Submitting Your Proposal

The proposal must submitted to the Office of Foundation Relations or Office of Sponsored Research at least five (5) days prior to the submission deadline. All final proposals are submitted by one of these two offices. 

For institutional data required for your grant proposal, see the Frequently Requested Information page.