Proposal Development & Preparation

How to develop your best proposal

You don’t have to do it all on your own. Once you have identified a funding opportunity for your project, there are lots of resources available to help you move forward. Whether you need assistance with the detailed requirements of budget planning and compliance with submission guidelines or guidance in crafting a compelling, persuasive proposal, you have access to knowledgeable staff and online resources that can help.

Begin with deadlines in mind

Be aware that all external funding proposals must be formally submitted through the Office of Research Administration (ORA) by 9 a.m. four days in advance of the funding sponsor’s deadline. ORA reviews proposals to make sure they comply with university and funding sponsor guidelines, and then submits your proposal on your behalf. Sometimes, special circumstances could require you to work with a different office.

Strategize and strengthen your proposal

IU's proposal development specialists collaborate with researchers to help plan, prepare, and manage applications for external funding. Proposal development services may include:

  • Consultation and project coordination
    • Reviewing the responsiveness of your proposal to a particular funding opportunity
    • Identifying potential collaborators and project team members
    • Working with the project lead to establish a timeline
    • Providing iterative, reviewer-focused guidance and feedback
    • Processing reviewers' comments during revision
    • Organizing and managing the proposal preparation process
    • Coordinating with IU's Office of Research Administration
  • Learning opportunities
    • Identifying funding opportunities
    • Proposal-writing seminars
    • Networking and peer review workshops
    • Information sessions about specific funding opportunities
    • Events featuring funding agency leaders

To take full advantage of these free services, contact IU's proposal development specialists for support at least 4-6 weeks in advance of the deadline (allow at least two months lead time for complex proposals). To request proposal development services:

Sign up for the IU Bloomington PDS Narrative newsletter or browse its archives to find more resources and tools on writing a successful proposal.

Preparing the administrative elements of your proposal

It’s never too early to begin asking questions or seek a grant consultant to guide you through the detailed steps you need to take before the routing and submission of your proposal.

Here are some of the services that either a grant consultant in your unit or the Office of Research Administration may assist you with:

  • Drafting the budget and budgeting justification
  • Preparing administrative forms
  • Working with subawardees (if applicable) to obtain required documentation
  • Preparing the development document for review and approval
  • Uploading proposal files to the sponsor on or before the deadline

Proposal preparation guidelines

Review policies and guidelines you must follow when preparing a proposal:

Institutional information

Sponsor guidelines usually require specific information about the institution. The most frequently requested details for project proposals are listed here.

Preparing a budget

Research administration must approve your budget before you submit your proposal. Learn about budget preparation as well as IU’s federally negotiated rates, common costs and cost sharing, and necessary documentation for subawards.

The submission process

Digital resources are available to help you

Contact Proposal & Award Services for help


Phone: (812) 855-0516


Phone: (317) 278-3473