Proposal Development

The Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Compliance is here and ready to assist with your proposal development, and we have noted some quick resources to help you get started.

Basic Facts about Bates

Quick Facts about Bates

Many external funding sources require basic institutional information. Here are some of the most common requests.

  • Employer/Federal Tax ID number: 01-0211781
  • DUNS number: 05-895-1401
  • Unique Entity Identifier (UEI): D77HU977E973
  • Congressional District: ME-02

For demographic and enrollment data, consult the most recent version of Bates Facts, published annually by the Office of Institutional Research, Analysis and Planning.

If you need more detailed information, please be in touch with the Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Compliance. We can help you locate the best information to shape your proposal.

Beyond the Basics: Proposal Writing Techniques

Proposal writing can be overwhelming. It is a skill, and it is a skill acquired through practice.

Few people enjoy rejection, but it happens. To make your proposal as compelling as possible and avoid rejection, we have compiled a few pieces of advice. They might seem obvious, but in our experience, these rank among the most common reasons for proposal rejection.

1) Plan your time. If the proposal requires more than a narrative and a budget (e.g., biographical sketches, letters of commitment from collaborators), make sure you compile the information well before the deadline. Online application portals can (and do) have technical issues, hard copies get lost in transit, and important sections can accidentally be omitted. Please set an internal deadline that is well before the actual deadline. Last minute submissions are often rushed and contain errors, and they present as rushed with errors. Plan your time.

2) Think about who will read your proposal. Not just the peer review, but who is empowered to make the decision. Information about the selection process may be available on the funder’s website or in the specific Request For Proposals (RFP). If it is not, you may be able to learn more by speaking to a program officer at the funding source or from the Office of Sponsored Programs. This is your audience, so tailor your phrasing to be as specific as possible to the request. (It is absolutely ok to mimic the RFP’s own language. (Meaning, if the RFP states “funding to increase understanding of XYZ,” feel free to write “my proposal will increase understanding of XYZ.” And then elaborate how.)

3) Abide by all page limits and formatting requirements. When in doubt, use a common font (Times New Roman or Arial) in 12 point, with 1” margins. (Page limits or character counts may mean that you are not able to present a fully rigorous case according to the your discipline’s publication norms. That is ok.) We have seen proposals get kicked back for technical errors when, say, an extra page was added in the conversion from a Word document to a PDF.

4) State the purpose, significance, and (if relevant) guiding hypothesis of your project clearly on the first page. Do not make your audience guess or read too far into your proposal for answers. If the reviewer has a stack of 50 proposals, and yours happens to be number 49 in the stack, make it easy for the reviewer’s potentially tired brain to know exactly what you propose.

5) Strike a tone that is confident and forward-looking. Use active verbs and concrete nouns. Never write “might,” “could,” “would” or “should.”

The Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Compliance is happy to offer editing and feedback on proposal drafts. This is a free service, and we encourage you to take advantage.

Fundamentals of Budget Development

The Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Compliance (SPaRC) is here to help you to shape and refine your budget. Once we have met to discuss the project description, our office can draft a budget quickly and help finalize the budget details. In the interim, here are some budget basics:

1) Salaries. If funding allows for salary support, faculty can request summer stipends from external grants. Salaries and Stipend information for faculty can be found here. For all other types of salaries, please work with SPaRC to address support needs.

2) FICA and Fringe Benefits. If you are hiring personnel as part of your grant proposal, you will need to include fringe benefits (34% as of July 1, 2019) for all benefits-eligible employees or FICA only (7.65% ) for faculty summer salaries, non-benefits-eligible employees, and student employees during the summer. 0% for student employees during the academic year.

3) Indirect Costs. At Bates, the indirect cost rate (IDC) is 38.9% on a Modified Total Direct Cost basis. (Excluded from IDC: the full value of any equipment, the portion of any subaward over $25,000, and Participant Support Costs on NSF awards.)

4) Equipment vs. Supplies. Equipment = any item with a cost of $5,000 or more and a useful life of 1 year or longer. Please review Bates procurement policy on purchases using federal funds.

5) Subawards. A subaward is the portion of an award that is re-granted to another institution or organization. Please see Subawards for the forms that need to be completed by your collaborating institutions before a proposal can be submitted.

6) Cost-sharing. Whenever possible, grant proposals should cover the full direct and indirect costs of implementing the project. If an RFP specifies a matching fund (cost-sharing) amount or formula, contact the Office of Sponsored Programs as early as possible, so we can help determine whether and/or how Bates can make such resources available. Voluntary cost-sharing commitments (i.e., those not specifically required by a funding source or an RFP) are discouraged. All cost-sharing commitments, whether mandatory or voluntary, must be approved by the Dean of the Faculty before a proposal is submitted.

7) Subrecipient vs. Contractor. A subrecipient is an entity that receives a portion of the award to carry out part of a sponsored project. It differs from a contractor that provides commercially available property or services necessary for the project’s success. If you are uncertain whether an entity should be considered a subrecipient or a contractor, please be in touch with our office.

Other Required Documents and Resources

Depending on the solicitation, most proposals require several documents in addition to the proposal narrative/project description. These documents work with your project narrative to comprise your entire proposal. Additional elements often include some version of:

  • Abstract/Summary
  • CV or biosketch of key personnel involved in the project
  • Description of the facilities or other resources available to the project
  • Data Management and Sharing Plan
  • Statements about the impact of your project on your career or deparment, students, Bates, etc

It’s important to read the solicitation carefully to identify all of the required components for your application. When you get in touch with SPaRC to let us know you’d like to submit a proposal, we will also work with you to develop a checklist of required elements.

Next Step: Getting Your Application Submitted