We can help you turn your idea into a successful proposal, identify a principal investigator or project director, as well as other initial steps in the process.

We’ll help you:

  • Interpret guidelines
  • Identify deadlines
  • Assess funder fit
  • Assess capacity to carry out grant-related activities
  • Identify and engage internal and external partners and stakeholders
  • Edit and proofread

Turning Your Idea Into a Proposal

From a clear understanding of the proposal guidelines to a well-written draft, it’s important to pay attention to the details throughout the process.

Read the Guidelines

Details matter! Read the guidelines carefully and follow them exactly and be sure to answer all the questions in the order asked. Follow all formatting requirements to the letter.

Be prepared to document that you have access to all required resources, including archives, collections, or institutions necessary to carry out the project. Try to anticipate questions reviewers might have—and answer them.


Start Early! It can take longer than expected to write and fine-tune. Sponsors will want to know how their mission will be advanced by the proposed project or how society in general will benefit.

Consider the following in a draft proposal:

  • What are the basic ideas, problems, works, or questions being considered?
  • What is the planned approach or line of thought?
  • Describe the need, how will you address the need, and your plan of implementation, including metrics and outcomes.
  • What is the relationship between the proposed work and the work of others in the same general subject area?
  • What contribution is the proposed study likely to make, and what is its significance to the field?
  • What is distinctive about the proposed project?
  • What format (books, articles, papers, progress reports, other) is the outcome of the proposed project likely to assume?

Writing Resources

Identifying a Principal Investigator/Project Director

Who can be a principal investigator/project director on a grant at Middlebury?

  • Tenured or tenure-track College faculty members
  • Institute faculty or staff
  • Visiting faculty with approval of Vice-President for Academic Affairs
  • Associates in Science Instruction with approval of Vice-President for Academic Affairs
  • Research Scholars according to the terms of their appointment letters
  • Professors emeritus with approval of Vice-President for Academic Affairs
  • Vermont-based staff who have approval of supervisor and appropriate Vice-President
  • Other Middlebury employees with approval of supervisor and appropriate Vice-President

Eligibility requirements and submission limits also vary by sponsor and often by each specific opportunity. Check the funding source’s guidelines to find out whether you are eligible for an award and how many proposals you may submit within a particular time frame.