Proposal Timelines

TIMELINES. Two kinds of time lines need to be considered in a proposal: External and Internal.

  • The “External” time line relates to when funding is needed to conduct the project/program.
  • The “Internal” time line describes the schedule of events/activities that will be conducted if the project or program that the proposal is funded (presented as a “calendar” with “milestones”).

“External” time line

It is important to know submission deadlines, review cycles, and funding calendars of corporations and foundations to which a Letter of Inquiry or a Proposal will be sent – and understand how this will affect the development or implementation of a project or program.

You are likely to be disappointed if do not begin the funding request process until May when you need funding for September.

For funders with submission deadlines and review cycles.

In general, the process of developing a funding request should begin 12 to 18 months before the grant is needed.

This will vary if there is a one-step process – submitting a proposal is the only step – or a two-step process (sending a Letter of Inquiry seeking an invitation to submit a proposal, then developing and presenting a full Proposal if invited).

Example for small corporate giving program

Grant CycleRequest DeadlineDecision Date
Cycle OneJanuary 15April 1
Cycle TwoMay 15August 1
Cycle ThreeSeptember 15December 1

Example for large foundation giving program

Grant Cycle TimelineDates
Submit one page Concept Paper.Jan. 1 to Feb. 15
Conference call with ApplicantFeb. 15 to March 30
Pre-proposal Application Deadline.May 1
Notification of Invitation to Submit Full Proposal.July 15
Full Proposal Submission Deadline.August 30
Conduct Site VisitSeptember/October
Board determination of awardsDecember
Funding awardedJanuary

For funders with no deadlines for submission.

In some cases, funders note that applications are accepted at any time. However, it is probable that there will be a period of at least three to six months before the application is reviewed by a corporate contributions committee or a foundation board of directors and a decision about providing funding is made.

Also note that the result of the initial review may then be to invite the applicant to submit a full funding request, which in turn may not be reviewed for three to six months before the final decision is reached on whether to provide funding or not.

Even in this case, the process of developing a funding request should begin 9 to 12 months before the grant is needed.

“Internal” time line

The “Internal” time line describes the schedule of events/activities that will be conducted if the project or program that the proposal is funded (presented as a “calendar” with “milestones”). This should be linked to the funding requested, which is presented in the proposal budget, to demonstrate how funds will used at the various stages of the project/program and linked to the personnel who will be responsible for each step or activity in the proposed project/program.

The first example below is from major research project proposal; the second example is from a faculty-led student service project. Both offer a good model for what should be in a time line.

Example 1.

Year 1:

New Genetics-Biotechnology building will be completed and occupied by research team.

  1. Construct two next-generation 1.2 million element sequencing machines. The SO optics will be assembled in parallel, with the first test expected to take place nine months after the start of the project. Recruit bioinformatics/database team during the first 9 months.
  2. In the last three months, examination of ES cell transcriptome by genomic tiling will begin.
  3. Begin gene targeting of nanog, one key gene involved in pluripotency.
  4. Begin to design and optimize standard gene expression chips in part based on tiling data.

Year 2:

  1. Finish the ES cell transcriptome tiling experiments.
  2. Complete optimization of standard gene expression chips.
  3. Complete the mouse ES cell transcriptome by genomic tiling.
  4. Continue gene targeting.
  5. Establish a detailed time course of gene expression during trophoblast, endoderm, and neural ectoderm differentiation.

Year 3:

  1. Complete the zebrafish ES cell transcriptome by genomic tiling.
  2. Finish Gene Targeting of select genes.
  3. Analyze the gene expression changes of the knock-outs.

Example 2

  • Begin service learning project planning and preparation at UW-Madison at start of Spring semester.
  • Faculty coordinator and Greenhouse residence director plan travel to and housing in New Orleans
  • Faculty team meets with students in a weekly seminar during the 2013 Spring Semester
  • Student participants in Summer 2011 project and Spring Break 2012 project communicate with GreenHouse residents and other student organizations.
1st Quarter 2013.
June: Students and Faculty team travel to New Orleans to begin summer service project.

  • Plan for the sustainable redevelopment of Lower Ninth Ward.
  • Determine residents’ knowledge and use of targeted wetland restoration area.
  • Identify immediate adaptive restoration solutions for targeted wetland restoration area.
    1. Collect baseline data about the salinity, chemical composition, and hydrology of area
    2. Plant small, self-contained test-plots with potentially successful species identified by research.
    3. Begin research reports on project for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
2nd Quarter 2013.
July: Continue planting in test plots begun in June; return to UW-Madison at end of month.

  • Streamline implementation by continuing work with local environmental organizations.
  • Provide the community with concrete evidence of restoration efforts.
    1. Conduct surveys in community re: awareness of restoration and current use of wetlands area.
    2. Investigate potential of various economic opportunities associated with restoration.
    3. Review use of reports by Army Corps of Engineers re: benefit for remediation and recreation.
  • Grow relationships with stakeholders.
    1. Inspire long-term commitment to restoration in the community by creating wetland science curriculum for local students with hands-on activities in restored wetlands area.
    2. Connect residents to restoration efforts (participate in activities; attend community meetings, etc.
3rd Quarter 2013.