- Federal agencies, besides having the most money for funding, will have their own instructions, requirements, and forms, which in some ways make the process a little easier. You will know exactly what they want.
- Proposals to federal agencies will generally be submitted by someone affiliated with a college, university, or business, which then, after award document has been issued, establishes an account for that individual.
- Proposals to federal agencies generally will go out for peer review. Federal agencies want to talk to you. Almost all of them strongly encourage a proposal writer to contact the proper division and person before submitting a proposal, to discuss the project and see whether the agency is funding that particular type of research.
- Some federal agencies are 'driven', i.e., your research must closely match their interests (U.S. Department of Energy, NASA), while others are not, and you may submit a research project of your own creation (National Science Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities). The U.S. Department of Education is a little of both—you can submit your project idea within one of their different areas of interest.
- Federal agencies send reviews if a proposal is rejected. If for some reason you don't receive them, ask for them.
Non-federal Sponsors (e.g., foundations and corporations)
- Most proposals to foundations or corporations are called "letter proposals", only several pages long, and will need to stress what you propose to do, why it is important, and how you will do it.
- Foundations/corporations generally do not send your proposal for a peer review.
- They will need to be convinced by you alone why they should fund what you are doing.
- Read their guidelines carefully to determine their areas of interest.
- If you and they "fit", submit your letter proposal if they do not list specific proposal requirements. If they are interested, you will either be funded outright, or asked to submit a more complete proposal. However, note that very few of them want you to telephone them or submit a full proposal first. Most correspondence with a foundation is just that—letters of inquiry, requests for information and applications, etc.