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Lindenwood Grants Handbook

Learn the Basics at Lindenwood

Introduction to Grants at Lindenwood

This Grants Handbook is designed to assist Lindenwood University faculty, staff, and students in the development of funding for research, scholarship and creative work. The Grants Handbook offers the most recent policy and guidance for grant seeking and administration from the LU Sponsored Projects Office. This guidance applies primarily to funding for projects and activities from external agencies or community partners. The Sponsored Projects Office has additional support available for institutional level grants or awards aimed at enhancing campus spaces, developing programs, or funding student scholarships.

Policy found in the Grants Handbook provides a basic set of guidelines to follow. Federal or state agencies, nonprofit partners, and commercial sponsors may have additional policies and timelines for applicants. The Sponsored Projects Office will assist LU faculty, staff, and students in identifying and adhering to these additional guidelines.

What is a Sponsored Project?

There are several important terms to understand in the higher education funding environment. Many are familiar with the terms “grant” or “contract,” which are the most common types of funding for research and scholarship. A “Sponsored Project” is an umbrella term for any externally-funded activity which requires a formal agreement between Lindenwood University and a sponsor or funding agency. This formal agreement could be a grant, training award, cooperative agreement, memorandum of understanding, or contract. Sponsored Projects commonly involve research activities, but could also include teaching, training, employment costs, event management, or professional development activities.

The following elements are often present in Sponsored Projects:

  • The proposal is submitted in response to a Request for Proposals (RFP) or Request for Application (RFA).
  • The proposal requires use of university resources, facilities, equipment, or personnel.
  • The project requires a written agreement or contract between the sponsor and Lindenwood University.
  • The award includes conditions for fiscal reporting and invoicing.
  • The proposed project involves use of human or animal subjects, hazardous materials, or controlled substances.

What is the Sponsored Projects Office (SPO)?

The Sponsored Projects Office (SPO) at Lindenwood University is administered by the Research & Compliance Office. The SPO is tasked with supporting faculty, staff, and students who are seeking grant funding and ensuring receipt and administration of these funds remains compliant with all applicable policies and regulations. The SPO also hosts various faculty resources which are accessible through the Research & Compliance Office.

The SPO aims to provide collaborative resources for innovative research, scholarship and creative activity at Lindenwood University.

When do I need to talk to the Sponsored Projects Office (SPO)?

The SPO can assist faculty, staff, and students at any stage of the funding and award process. Lindenwood University requires all applicants for external funding for any activity meeting the definition of a sponsored project to complete the Pre-Award Sponsored Project Review Form prior to submitting their funding application.

The Pre-Award process:

  • Creates a timeline for LU to respond any expected contract or agreement.
  • Ensures that LU is able to support the proposed project.
  • Captures issues relevant to competitive funding, such as matching, letters of intent, or other institutional support requirements.
  • Identifies potential compliance review needs, such as IRB, IACUC, Intellectual Property, or EH&S reviews.

It is important that Principal Investigators and funding awardees do not sign any contract or agreement on behalf of Lindenwood University. In all Sponsored Projects, Lindenwood University is the recipient of the funding, not the faculty, staff, or student applicant. Only Authorized or Institutional Officials and their designees may enter into contract negotiations or execute a contract on behalf of Lindenwood University without prior authorization.


Consider Funding Resources

First Steps in Identifying Funding

The most powerful tool in any funding search is a clear idea or well-defined project. Grant seeking often requires a bit of creativity and flexibility in matching your idea to the goals of different funding agencies. Successful awardees often let the grant seeking process and feedback from program officers refine their academic or creative goals.

This first step in grant seeking entails having a firm idea in mind of what you want to accomplish and knowing how to match this idea with the interests of different funders. The second step requires assessing the resources you have on hand to complete the project, including the amount of time you may have available. This is important as a funding announcement will typically stipulate what the agency will or will not allow in a proposed budget. Having a sense for what you will need to implement your idea or project will help align you more quickly with agreeable funding options.

The Sponsored Project Office (SPO) is available for consultation in these early stages of your research or project development.

Grant Search Tools at LU

The SPO has several resources available for grant and funding searches:

  • The primary tool for grant seeking at Lindenwood University is Pivot. The SPO can assist in familiarizing faculty, staff, and students with basic practices in grant seeking in Pivot and how this tool can support individual, lab, department, or School needs. (The SPO is currently in the process of implementing Pivot. Contact Cori Ruprecht to schedule a demo with your team.)
  • The SPO has staff available for consultation and expertise in partnering with faculty and staff as they develop strategic funding initiatives, specific research or project ideas, or are interested in learning how to connect with regional and national funding agencies.
  • The SPO maintains a traditional introduction to the most commonly used funding agencies and search tools.

Federal Funding at LU

Applicants responding to federal funding announcements must contact the SPO for consultation as early as possible in the process. The SPO can assist in developing an effective strategy for any specific funding announcement and a plan for grant implementation and fiscal management.

Application to most federal agencies requires use of platforms like FastLane, ASSIST, or eRA Commons. The SPO manages these platforms on behalf of the institution and serves as the Administrative Official, Authorized Organizational Representative and, in some cases, Signing Official for the institution. Principal Investigators (PIs) may not submit applications for state or federal funding without the assistance or prior authorization of the SPO.

Non-Profit and Commercial Funding at LU

Rules and policies governing funding from non-profit and commercial environments vary widely based on the funder. It is important that applicants review all policies and terms for awards carefully to ensure compliance with these different conditions. It is frequently the case that program or agency officers reviewing grant applications are looking for signals that the applicant understands the terms of the award and has the resources to meet these conditions.

The SPO is available to review specific award conditions and connect applicants with resources necessary for developing a competitive submission.

Funding Search Ideas to Keep in Mind

  • It is always helpful to talk to past awardees from a specific federal grant or funding program. These conversations may help you better understand the program goals and craft your application to fit these aims.
  • Reach out to the program manager for a specific funding program to talk about your idea. Program managers will often have good advice for the current funding cycle and help you dial into application deadlines effectively.
  • Prior to submission, run a search in the funding announcement for words like “must” and “should.” This search will help identify specific award conditions that may have a bearing on the feasibility of the project.


Terminology and Acronyms

Funding announcements go by many names, but usually have the same meaning. Below are a few of the common terms and acronyms used by Federal, Governmental, Foundation, and Corporate grant making entities:

  • Call for Proposals/Applications
  • Cooperative Agreement
  • Funding Announcement
  • Solicitation
  • FOA = Funding Opportunity Announcement
  • IFB = Invitation for Bid (government contracts)
  • LOI = Letter of Inquiry/Intent
  • NOFO = Notice of Funding Opportunity
  • NOFA = Notice of Funding Announcement
  • NOSI = Notice of Special Interest
  • RFA = Request for Applications
  • RFP = Request for Proposals


Cultivate Your Idea

Set up a Timeline

One of the most crucial elements of a successful award experience is a firm series of timelines. It is helpful to think in project management terms when establishing a schedule for meeting application deadline cycles, even for pre-application typically referred to as letter of inquiry/intent or concept paper. If there are multiple people involved in the application process, each person should be aware of their role and when they need to deliver or review different parts of the application.

It is helpful, for example, to think of the application process in four different stages. If there are multiple people engaged in the application cycle, these phases can serve as deadline or meeting targets:

  • Preliminary Idea/Strategy Session: Identify the core idea or project and potential funding opportunities you intend to pursue.
  • Application Assessment: Review the funding announcement or application, consider strategic revisions to initial research or project goals to fit the opportunity, and review necessary institutional and material resources.
  • Draft Application Review: Review a first draft of the full application with careful attention to features of the funding announcement and information gathered from program officers or past applicants.
  • Final Application Review: Review a final draft of the full application, along with comments from internal or external reviewers.

Understand the Funding Criteria

It is also important to review the criteria for potential opportunities or funding announcements very carefully. Make sure you are aware of all key dates in the solicitation, such as a pre-application phase. Consider running a search on words like “must” or “should” to ensure you have captured all necessary features or conditions of the grant. Agencies and funders will often publish broader funding goals or objectives on their websites. These goals may describe a long-range strategic vision or set of essential humanitarian or academic themes. Each grant application should incorporate ideas and language from these broader aims.


Private foundations, and occasionally Federal agencies, often require a pre-application ahead of submitting a full proposal. These are typically referred to as letter of inquiry or intent (LOI) or concept paper. LOIs are shortened versions of full applications that funders use to narrow the application pool. Upon submission and review of the LOI or concept paper, funders may invite you to submit a full application. They might also provide important feedback on your pre-proposal that you should consider when developing the full proposal. If you are not invited to submit a full application, do not be discouraged. You should always inquire with the program officer to learn how you might improve your pre-proposal to submit in the next cycle.

Contact Program Officers

Most program officers or staff at funding agencies are available to talk about specific funding opportunities. It is helpful to set up an appointment to talk about your idea or project before initiating the application process. Program officers can help frame the funding announcement with details about what application reviewers will be looking for during the current cycle. They may also share features of unsuccessful applications to help ensure your application meets the current expectations of reviewers.

Identify Collaborators

Many grant applications succeed based on a strategic arrangement of talent, skill, and resources. When thinking through your idea, it is essential to consider what additional skills or expertise will be necessary to ensure the research or project will be successful within the required timelines. Examples of collaborators include:

  • statisticians
  • community-engagement specialists
  • analytical software experts
  • people with specific skills and discipline expertise.

Consider Resources for Sharing Research/Findings

The current funding environment is largely focused on research, data, and programming which has the potential to reach intended audiences. This is why most federal and non-profit funding applications include sections on dissemination and implementation, or how you will share the results of your research or creative work with stakeholders.

This can be one of the most challenging aspects of the grant development process in the higher education sector, which is why dissemination and implementation should be considered at the earliest stages of any grant application. The SPO is available to help build a dissemination plan for your work.


  • Dissemination Resources at LU (video coming soon...)
  • Strategic Grant Development (video coming soon)

Write Your Proposal

Successful Grant Writing

Grant reviewers are looking for projects that connect with the funding entity's academic or humanitarian goals. Reviewers pick up each stack of applications with these emphases in mind and are looking for complimentary research, scholarship, and creative work. As you begin the writing process it is important to understand your audience and anticipate the questions they are sure to have about your proposal.

Grant reviewers tend to have the following questions about proposals:

  • What does the applicant want to do?
  • How does this idea fit within the sponsor’s goals or aims?
  • How is the applicant qualified to conduct the project?
  • What prior work has been conducted in this area?
  • How much will the project cost?
  • How will the project be evaluated?
  • How will the results of this work affect stakeholders?
  • How will the applicant share results of the project?

Lindenwood University Information

Most applications will require the following LU information:

  • LU DUNS #: 07-696-4410
  • LU Federal Tax ID: 43-0652649
  • Indirect Cost Rate: Contact GSRS

Common Application Sections

Pay careful attention to funder, FOA and reviewer criteria when developing your proposal.

Project Summary: A Project Summary is typically a one-page abstract of the purposes of the project and overall plan for meeting these objectives. This summary should emphasize correlations between the proposed project and funder’s specific application instructions or stated aims. It should also briefly emphasize unique aspects of the proposal and the applicant’s qualifications to implement the project. This section is effectively the “elevator pitch” used by funding agencies to assess and route your application for further review.

Statement of Need/Background: This section is typically required, but may be embedded within the full project narrative (see below). Funders want a full description of the needs in the target area  or among the target population (e.g., local/community-based data) and how your project intends to address those needs. You should include a narrative description of the background (e.g., literature review) leading to development of the proposal. Including relevant and recent citations (within the last 5-10 years) is important in this section and will help demonstrate relevance and need for the project.

Project Narrative/Project Description: The label for this section will vary by funding agency. The Project Narrative should include each element required in the application, which are typically: project aims, chronological description of the project, protocol of project evaluation, and plans for disseminating project findings or results. This section is not simply a duplication of the protocol. Successful applicants use this section to persuade reviewers that the project is important, that the project design has merit, and the applicant has all requisite skills and resources to complete the proposal. Reference to prior relevant work or preliminary data can often be helpful in this section.

Methods/Evaluation: As mentioned in the prior section, and depending on the type of proposal you are developing, the funder may ask for a description of your program/project design, methodology, and evaluation plans. This section is intended to give reviewers a detailed explanation of protocols, activities, timelines, and processes for achieving stated project goals and objectives. You may include data collection and analysis, timelines, roles and responsibilities, and dissemination of findings/results here. An informed, thoughtful description has the potential to set your project apart from others.

Writing the Budget

Always follow funder guidelines when developing the budget, using prescribed section headings for expense categories in the budget and justification narrative.

Project Budget: Creating an approvable budget is often the most complicated part of the grant application process. Every federal agency and commercial or nonprofit funder has its own rules and policies for allowable or restricted expenses, which can be difficult to navigate. For all federal grant applications, GSRS will review or compose budgets to ensure compliance with current OMB Uniform Guidance, agency specific policies, and LU standards. GSRS typically reviews budgets for commercial and nonprofit applications during the negotiation phase for each award, and will consult with applicants prior to submission as necessary. GSRS has the following policy resources available for applicants:

  • Personnel:
    • Faculty and staff may include salary in grant budgets based on a percentage of effort contributed to the grant, relative to 9 or 12 months contracts. This may require a specific estimation of time and effort put toward the project. NIH offers a conversion chart for effort calculation that may help in developing certain budgets.
    • Faculty may request compensation for off-contract months, calculated by 1/9 of the current academic salary for each summer month of full time effort.
    • Human Resources will assist in determining salary for research assistants or associates, and generating specific job titles for these roles.
    • Human Resources will assist in calculating Fringe Benefits for all salary lines included in a budget.
    • Including salary for key personnel (other than yourself) is typically allowed; however, GSRS will lead budget development in this area in order to maintain confidentiality, per HR policy.
  • Materials and Supplies:
    • The distinction between allowable and unallowable costs, direct costs and indirect costs, mandatory and voluntary cost matching, and several other distinctions are crucial in developing an approvable budget. GSRS is available to navigate these distinctions and ensure compliance with funder requirements.
    • In general, this budget category pertains to consumables and equipment with a unit value of less than $5,000. Each material item must be directly allocated to the specific project to be considered an allowable cost.
  • Travel:
    • Travel expenses may be included in federal budget descriptions when necessary to conduct fieldwork or the travel is an essential component of the dissemination plan. Nonprofit and commercial funders may be more flexible in allowable costs related to travel. GSA offers a Per Diem Rate calculator that could assist you in developing these line item costs. Be sure to include airfare and/or ground travel, meals & incidentals, and lodging costs, as applicable.
    • Grant applications describing faculty and student travel for fieldwork, conferences, or related activities must also describe compliance with federal and institutional harassment policy.
  • Indirect Costs:
    • Defining Indirect Costs: Indirect Costs (IDCs) or Facilities & Administrative (F&A) Costs on externally funded Sponsored Projects provide reimbursement to the University for expenses incurred by the institution while supporting a specific project. Indirect Costs can be difficult to calculate, because they reflect shared services across the institution such as the library, utilities, information technology, administration, and buildings or equipment. Not all funding agencies allow indirect costs in budgets. Policies for funding agencies that do permit inclusion of Indirect Costs vary widely, but are typically calculated as a percentage of the overall budget request.
    • Indirect Cost Rate: In the case of state, federal, or non-profit sponsored projects, Lindenwood University can accept the de minimis rate listed by each agency. For all commercially-funded projects, the institution will negotiate an Indirect Cost rate on a case-by-case basis.
    • Calculating Indirect Cost Rates: Indirect Costs can be calculated based on a percentage of Total Direct Costs (TDC) or Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC). Total Direct Costs refer to the entire budget request. Modified Total Direct Costs refer to a specific set of categories in the entire budget request. Sponsored Project Applicants must consult with the Sponsored Projects Office when calculating any Indirect Cost rate based on MTDC. Lindenwood University currently does not have separate IDC rates for on and off-campus projects.
    • Exclusions from IDC Policy: Gifts, funds restricted to a specific program area or purpose, funding for capital improvements, and similar funding streams are not subject to IDC or F&A costs.

Budget Justification: The budget justification is a narrative description of line-item expenses included in the budget request. Often, applicants include sources or derivations of each item in narrative and/or a formula explanation. For instance, the budget justification may include descriptions of roles and responsibilities for key personnel, quantities and sources of supplies requested, and details on indirect costs. See the budget justification template below for examples.

Biographical Sketches

Biographical sketches for the PI and key personnel may be required by commercial or nonprofit funders, which will stipulate format and page length requirements. Most federal agencies require registration with ORCID and/or SciENcv. GSRS is available to assist in setting up these accounts. Please refer to the following additional templates and guidance:

Identify Special Issues

During the Project Summary drafting, applicants should begin considering the compliance implications of their proposal. Successful applications will demonstrate access to all necessary resources for the safe, ethical, and compliant implementation of the project. These ethics and compliance requirements can include:


  • Brief Introduction to Grant Writing (video coming soon...)
  • Creating Biographical Sketches (web page coming soon...)

Complete Pre-Award Process

Pre-Award Sponsored Projects Process

A grant proposal submitted by the faculty, staff, or students of Lindenwood University represents a commitment on behalf of the institution to compliance with funding policies and procedures. Completing the Pre-Award Sponsored Project Process through Grants and Sponsored Research Services (GSRS):

  • Creates a timeline for LU to respond any expected contract or agreement.
  • Ensures that LU is able to support the proposed project.
  • Offers proposal review and comments, which may include revision or enhancement, to promote successful application.
  • Captures issues relevant to competitive funding, such as matching, letters of intent, or other institutional support requirements.
  • Identifies potential compliance review needs, such as IRB, IACUC, Intellectual Property, or EH&S reviews.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to complete the review process at least three weeks prior to the submission of your grant proposal. After this initial review has been successfully completed, applicants will be directed to:

  • Provide application materials for proposals
  • Complete and route federal proposals to GSRS for further review and authorization
  • Route applications to formal commercial or nonprofit application process

Pre-Award Sponsored Project Review Form

Access the form for this process. Applicants will receive a response within 5-10 business days.

Submit Your Application

Grants and Sponsored Research Services (GSRS) is here to help you with submission (to nonprofit, foundation, or commercial entities) and/or submit your application on your behalf (Federal and all other entities). After you have completed the Pre-Award Review Process and have received authorization to submit your proposal from the Proposal Review Committee and GSRS, you are ready to submit.

Here are a few tips to keep your applications on track for submission:

  • Be mindful of schedules. Give yourself plenty of time to work with project partners, develop your proposal and budget, ask questions, collect supplemental materials, and obtain the necessary approvals to submit. Funders do not make concessions if you miss a deadline.
  • Ask for help. Narratives and budgets can be difficult to develop and finalize, especially when you have worked on them for a while. Have a colleague review your final proposal against the funder's evaluation criteria, if possible, before you submit. GSRS is also available to assist with review and revision, upon request.
  • Submit early.
    • Aim to submit your Pre-Award Proposal Review Form at least 3 weeks in advance of the application deadline.
    • You should aim to submit your full application at least 3 business days ahead of the deadline. This will ensure you have time to deal with technical issues or inconsistencies, should they arise.
    • If GSRS if applying on your behalf, especially for Federal proposals, submit all final application materials to our office at least 5 business days ahead of the deadline. This will give us time to ensure the materials are complete and compliant, as well as ask any questions necessary for successful submission.

Manage Your Award

Upon receiving notification of your grant award, let GSRS know! We are ready to assist you with obtaining the necessary signatures, certifications, or other documentation needed to accept the award.

We may also:

  • Work with Fiscal Affairs to help set up your grant account and Workday tags so you can start monitoring expenditures
  • Notify LU stakeholders of the award for recognition purposes
  • Schedule a grant kickoff meeting, as needed, with key internal and external partners
  • Assist with managing reporting schedules and setting up processes/procedures for compliance with grant terms
  • Follow-up periodically to ensure adequate management of your grant and assist with any concerns or needs you may have throughout the project period

Award Closeout

Closeout is a formal process to terminate your award, grant, or agreement with the funding entity. Usually closeout entails submission of a final report that may include a narrative progress or outcomes report and  expenditure (budget vs. actual) report. It may include other items as required by the funder. GSRS will support you throughout the award management and closeout process to ensure compliance with terms and conditions. Don't hesitate to ask us for support early and often - we are always here to help!

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