As those in the research administration field know, a grant is a way for a sponsor to fund ideas that are important to them. Federal awarding agencies, private foundations and for-profit businesses award grants in support of research, service, and other activity types. However, it can be challenging to find the right grants for your research program. This is exactly why we created Streamlyne FundFit. Our groundbreaking new software, along with the tips contained herein, are intended to help you to be more successful in landing funding opportunities.
The first step in any successful grant endeavor is to find a sponsor and program that fits proposed project aims. Keep in mind that the relationship must be symbiotic. Sponsors fund sound proposals that are in line with their mission and strategic goals.
First: Identify Your Needs for Funding Opportunities
Before you start your search for a potential sponsor, write down your project aims and needs.
- What are the aims of your project? In other words, what do you want to accomplish?
- How do you plan to meet your project aims? What experiments or activities will you carry-out?
- Which resources will you need? What materials, equipment, and services? Who should be involved (e.g., graduate student, co-investigator, subrecipient)?
- What are the potential outcomes? How will you disseminate outcomes?
Look for a sponsor and program whose purpose matches your needs. Think about the time and resources needed to complete project aims and if the funding program can support all or part of those needs.
Second: Narrow Your Search
When searching for a sponsor, there may or may not be a ton of options depending on your specific project needs. You can target your search according to project duration, funding needs, and expected project impact. For small-scope projects, look internally or locally. For larger projects, look nationally or globally. When you are using a system such as Streamlyne FundFit, you can use a smart filtering system for search results.
For example, you can narrow searches by applicant type, sponsor type, project type, project location, and topical key words to help fine tune the outcome. Additionally, you can set up a profile using keywords and let the system alert you of new or modified funding opportunities matching your interests. This ensures your searches are on target and relevant to your program’s needs and specializations.
Next: Evaluate Your Fit
After you’ve discovered potential funding opportunities, evaluate them in terms of fit with your project aims and needs. When evaluating a funding opportunity, ask yourself:
- How strongly does my project align with the sponsor’s mission?
- Will I be able to achieve my project aims within the sponsor’s timeline?
- Does the program support the activities and items necessary to complete my scope of work?
- Do I meet the eligibility requirements?
Once you’ve answered ‘Yes’ to all these questions, it’s time to get to know your sponsor.
Finally: Get to Know Your Sponsor
Now that you’ve found a program that fits your project, learn as much as you can about the sponsor. Visit their websites, read their publications and funded abstracts, request samples of funded proposals, and attend their conferences. Seek answers to the following questions:
- What types of projects have they funded in the recent past?
- What is their average award size?
- Where is their geographical focus?
- What are the odds of success?
Most federal programs have program officers who coordinate and oversee their programs. If allowed, you can reach out to the program officer early in the application process about your project goals. The program officer can quickly give you an idea if your proposal fits well with their program. If the program officer feels the fit isn’t right, he or she may be able to suggest another program or agency more suitable to your project needs.
Non-federal programs may or may not have dedicated program officers. Often, securing an audience with these funders can be difficult. This can present a challenge because successful corporate and foundation funding is reliant on relationship building. So if at all possible, see if you can build a direct connection with the funding source. For example:
- Are you currently in contact with the funder or a member of the funder’s Board?
- Does your institution or employer already have an established relationship with the funder? If so, engage with the unit responsible for targeting philanthropic, sponsorship, and programmatic support to maximize that relationship.
Funding Opportunities: Putting It All Together
Finding the right sponsor takes a good amount of preparatory work. As such, we recommend:
- Focusing your time and energy upfront identifying your needs
- Narrowing your search
- Evaluating the fit between the funding program and your project, and
- Learning more about the sponsor.
Even the best written proposal will fall flat in the wrong program. Set yourself up for success by finding the right sponsor.
About Streamlyne FundFit
Streamlyne FundFit enables research programs to act on competitive funding opportunities within a moment’s notice. Our proprietary platform harnesses AI and Machine Learning to match a university’s researchers to the best open funding opportunities. Also, it provides tailored candidate recommendations for each opportunity, allowing users to assemble highly qualified and competitive teams around each funding opportunity within minutes. Further, this groundbreaking system fast-tracks the pre-application process, enabling research programs to act faster, reduce inadvertent biases, and ultimately secure more funding. Currently, FundFit is being rolled out at the administrator level, so key decision makers can manage insights and opportunities on behalf of their research program.