- A big part of a successful grant is understanding the funding agency. What are their mission and goals? What are the priorities of the organization? What have they funded in the past? How do they evaluate funding requests? It is in your best interest to know as much about the potential funding agency as possible. This knowledge can be gathered through research and active involvement with the agency providing the funding. One of the first places to start is the organization's website. Learn about the mission of the organization, what they value, and what goals they are trying to achieve with their funding.
Each government agency, foundation, or corporation provides money to further their goals and cause. You need to understand that cause and those goals and make sure your project is aligned with the goals and mission of the funding agency. If it's a government grant you're seeking, one of the things you may wanna consider before submitting is to become a peer reviewer. Peer reviewers score and comment upon applications using a scoring system. In this position, you'll be briefed on what reviewers are to look for in a successful application.
You'll be able to observe the types of grant proposals that are funded and the types that are not. And you'll be able to listen to the input and critique of fellow reviewers to learn what they value and find important. Reviewers can learn about common problems with proposals, discover strategies to write strong proposals, and through serving on a panel, meet colleagues and program officers managing programs related to your grant interests. For example, some government agencies, have a peer review program and continually recruit academics to serve as peer reviewers.
This is a good opportunity. Don't overlook it. Also when looking up potential funding opportunities, don't be afraid to visit the foundation, program officer, or manager to learn more about the types of projects they typically fund and even to run a potential idea past the program officer. Often, they can provide guidance, ideas, and input that will help steer you in the right direction. The trip to visit with a program officer to learn about an opportunity is time well spent.
They know what has been funded in the past, how competitive the upcoming funding cycle is likely to be, and whether or not your idea is feasible. It is important to understand what the foundation or government agency has funded in the past when you prepare to submit your proposal. To find out this information, you need to do some investigative work, but fortunately it's not that hard. Many agencies provide databases of past projects. For example, the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Educational Sciences, allows a person to search for past grants to see what was funded, who received the funding, and how much was awarded.
Other agencies and their foundations list their past awards as well. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation allows you to search awards to see what was funded and for how much. And the Carnegie Corporation as a foundation allows you to search grants as far back as 1982. Another great source of information about past projects is to talk directly with former principle investigators. Talk with people who have received funding and who are working with the funding organization. Often, they will have information about the workings of the organization, the things the organization liked or didn't like about their grant proposal and other information that is not typically available to someone who has not received an award.
It may even be possible to be able to view their winning proposal and see how it was written and what approach was successful. Learning as much about the funding organization as possible will better position you to write a grant that meets both your goals and the goals of the funding agency, so do your homework and learn about the agency and better position yourself for success.
- Finding a private or governmental funding agency
- Locating collaborators
- Understanding an RFP
- Dissecting the anatomy of a grant proposal: front matter to appendices
- Avoiding common grant-writing mistakes