Basic Elements of a Grant Proposal

A basic outline for faculty to follow when preparing research grant proposals; provided by Corporate, Foundation, and Government Relations.

Summary or Abstract

  1. Who is making the application
  2. Need or problem being addressed
  3. Objectives
  4. Methods
  5. Costs

Introduction: Project Staff and Project

This section establishes your qualifications to carry out the project being proposed. For example, how does this project fit into the context of your long-term research objectives? What relevant experience do you bring to the activities you plan to carry out with project funding? Experience can be defined broadly to include teaching, administrative, scholarly, and community activities. 

Problem or Need Statement

This section clearly describes the general problem or need to be addressed by your project. Such a problem might be homelessness in Utica. 

Objectives: "Measurable" Accomplishments

This section describes anticipated outcomes of your work with respect to the problem or need described in section 3. A project addressing problems of homelessness in Utica might have as an objective developing an economic model based on a number of regional economic indicators.

Methodology: Activities

This section details activities to be undertaken, describing exactly what steps you plan to take to reach your objectives. Include a timetable, if appropriate. For the project mentioned in #4 you will have to indicate how you plan to obtain the data (e.g., collect it yourself, hire students to help, use available data sets, etc.). You should also describe the methods you will use for analyzing this data, citing previous studies or reasons why these methods will likely lead to developing a viable model. 

Evaluation (Where Appropriate)

You must answer the question: how can you prove you have been successful in meeting your objectives. 


The budget describes the costs necessary to carry out the activities you have describe in the proposal. You should make clear which of those costs are to be paid by funder you are addressing and which costs may be covered by other sources. Normally the budget must follow Colgate guidelines for personnel costs, indirect costs, travel and per diem.

About preparing a grant proposal budget