How to Write a Grant
Part 4. Preparing the Budget and Final Submission
The fourth, and last, part of my “How to Write a Grant Proposal” series is organizing the budget and finally, uploading the entire grant application.
Regarding the budget, many granting entities allow a “modular” budget, up to the full limit of the award. A modular budget requires only a basic description of your appropriations for items such as personnel, supplies, equipment, travel, etc. Generally, one brief paragraph is recommended for each budget entry.
Often, and certainly if you are seeking funds exceeding the award amount, during grant preparation, you are required to submit a detailed budget justification (including NIH grants). Here, for “personnel” for example, you should describe each person’s expected effort, in terms of his/her total time. For example, if the employee will spend half his/her time on the proposed work, and is paid $50,000 annually, you would state 50% effort (or 6 calendar months), for a total of $25,000. You should also detail that employee’s contribution to the project, such as “maintain cells and perform all the cell experiments.” This should also be done for the other entries, such as supplies and travel. While a grant-writing service can assist you with effective presentation of the budget justification, it is ultimately your decision on how much to spend on what.
The final and concluding step of “how to write a grant” is submitting the entire application, i.e., narrative, abstract, specific aims, budget, budget justification, and main body, to the granting agency. Today, and particularly for NIH grants, this is almost always done electronically, via upload to the agency’s website, although some foundations may still accept mailed paper applications. In the final stage of grant preparation, make sure you have completed all required sections and requested information, as an incomplete submission will likely be automatically rejected. For NIH grants specifically, you must create your own account in the “NIH Commons” registry (preferably set this up several weeks before your final submission). Upload of the application to your NIH Commons account is achieved via a recently implemented system entitled “ASSIST.” Upload all required sections (marked with an asterisk, *), in PDF format. ASSIST specifically allows you a test submission, and will notify you of any fatal or nonfatal errors. For other government agencies or private foundations, carefully note all required information and required sections, as you may not receive a (error-provoked) rejection response before the application deadline (there is almost never any grace period to correct errors, after the final deadline). Usually for an additional fee, or perhaps included in your purchased “package,” a grant-writing service can submit/upload the complete application for you.
You are now finished with this entire formidable task (grant preparation), and your application will be sent for review! Good luck!