A proposal is the document submitted to the prospective funding source outlining the entire program, including goals, objectives, methods, time lines, expertise committed, and program budget. The terms proposal and application are often used synonymously. However, in some cases, an application form is required by the sponsor and is just one part of the entire proposal.
A solicited proposal is one that is submitted in response to a specific work statement from the sponsor. A Request for Proposals (RFP) or Request for Applications (RFA) is sometimes used by sponsors to solicit proposals for specific research, development, or training projects or to provide specific services or goods. The RFP or RFA generally includes standard terms, conditions, and assurances that the institution is asked to accept.
An unsolicited proposal is initiated by the applicant and submitted according to the sponsor’s broad guidelines. The funding arrangement for unsolicited proposals is usually a grant.