The Grants Process

Competitive proposals arise from well-designed projects. The steps below offer a general overview of the grant development process and are intended to assist you in planning your work.

Step 1:        Begin to Formulate Your Project

A good way to get started is to draft a one or two page summary, where you can outline your ideas and begin to develop your goals and objectives.  Consider the following questions as you draft your initial project summary:

  • What is it that you want to accomplish?
  • Are you building on the work of others?  If so, how?
  • What approach will you take?  Begin to think about a work plan with timelines for implementing and completing your project.
  • What do you need in order to carry out your proposed project?  Begin to consider any College or external resources you might need (personnel, space, IT, library, equipment, partnerships, etc.)
  • How much will it cost to implement your proposed project?  Begin to identify and estimate some of the essential project costs that may be included in your grant request (personnel, equipment, contractual, etc.)
  • Why are you the best person to carry out this project?
  • Is your proposed project a one-time endeavor or is it something that will need to be sustained?
  • What are the intended outcomes of your project?  Begin to think about how you will evaluate the success of your work.

As you begin to explore ideas and gather information, it may be helpful to refer to the Research and Information Sources page.

Step 2:        Find Funding Opportunities

It is important to find a funding source that is a good fit with what you are trying to achieve.  Refer to the following links to get started:

Once you have identified a potential funding source, it is equally important to research their guidelines to insure that the funding source is a good fit with Saint Mary’s College. 

Step 3:        Secure Internal Approval

After you have outlined your project concept and drafted a preliminary budget, complete the Grant Initiation Form (pdf) and forward it to your Departmental Chair and the Supervising Vice President for initial approval.  Though your project does not need to be fully developed, it is important to have a funding source in mind in order to complete the Grant Initiation Form.  If you are applying for corporate sponsorships for your project, complete the Corporate Sponsorship Initiation Form (docx). Please contact the CFR Director if you need assistance or advice with completing the Form.

Step 4:        Develop the Proposal

After the Grant Approval Form has been executed and a timeline for proposal submission has been established, you will begin developing and writing your proposal.  Visit the link to Developing your Proposal for more information and suggestions on drafting the proposal narrative and work plan.

Step 5:        Develop the Budget

The Business Office must review all budgets prior to submission to make sure they comply with federal government regulations as well as policies and budgetary considerations specific to Saint Mary’s College. Visit the pages on Developing your Budget and on developing a Budget Justification for guidance.

Step 6:        Complete the Application Process

This step typically includes coordinating the details of grant submission, preparing forms and acquiring the necessary final approvals and signatures. The CFR Director will assist with securing the required approvals.  The CFR Director can also serve as the Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) for submitting online proposals through or other federal or foundation online application systems.

Step 7:        Manage the Award

If the grant is awarded, the CFR Director and the Business Office will guide you through the grant management process and provide budgetary assistance and oversight as needed.  Visit the link to Managing Your Grant Award for more information on policies and practices relating to grant management and reporting matters.

P.S.   What if the Grant is not Awarded?

Seek feedback from proposal reviewers. Some federal agencies, for example, will provide a written evaluation of proposals not funded.  This can provide valuable insight into the strengths and weaknesses of your project proposal.

Please keep in mind that most proposals are not funded – competition for external funding is very high. And keep in mind that the very process of writing a proposal can help clarify and further your  project, making funding for the next application more likely.

If you have any questions or need assistance, contact Patricia Doyle '69, CFGR Director at ext. 4856.