The Researcher's Tool Kit

Resources for working smarter

7 Steps to Find Grant Funds

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My recent post, The #1 Question Grant Seekers Neglect to Ask, generated requests for more information about how to find grant funds.  Specifically, folks have requested action steps to implement when seeking grant funds.  Here goes my attempt to summarize the process (and the questions to ask along the way) in 7 steps…

cropped-cropped-toolkit-24157707-copy.jpgTAKE ACTION:  SEVEN STEPS TO FIND GRANT FUNDS

STEP 1:  Gather specific information about the PI/PD for the project

Principal Investigator (PI)/Project Director (PD) information is essential for eligibility determination.  Gather the information below to facilitate efficient and successful searches via websites and databases.

  • Highest degree conferred
  • Year degree conferred
  • Citizenship
  • Appointment status/employment status
  • Performance site
  • Known Conflicts of Interest (COI)

STEP 2: Determine eligibility

Check out The #1 Question Grant Seekers Neglect to Ask for discussion about how to determine eligibility.

STEP 3: Determine the purpose of the funding

Do you want funding to do research?  Are you an educational non-profit?  Funders support projects and non-profits with purposes that are consistent with their purpose.  Make sure the goals and aims of your project are explicitly matched to the funder’s purpose.  Are you looking for funding that focuses on…

  • a specific population? (e.g., children, disease-specific, by location)
  • a specific nonprofit? (e.g., religious, environmental, educational)
  • a type of support? (e.g., research, conference, construction, fellowship, equipment, program/center

Decide on the purpose of your project for which you seek support.  This will help you determine if a funder is a good fit when requesting grant funds for your specific work.

STEP 4: Find an appropriate funder

Numerous searchable databases and websites are available when seeking funding in the following categories:

Check out a few searchable databases included on the funding resources link.  There’s alot out there so “work smart, not hard” to find the best fit in this competitive market.

STEP 5: Review the funder’s mission and priorities in detail

As stated, you need to ensure your project is consistent with the purpose and activities the funder supports.  Take the time to review that information BEFORE deciding to respond to a funding opportunity announcement (FOA).  This relatively small investment in time allows you to package your request for funding in a way that makes sense to the funder and can result in a big payoff when you are awarded support.

Most funders readily provide their purpose, mission statement and priorities for annual funding on their websites.   For example, every NIH Institute and Center has its mission and funding priorities posted.  Remember to check back before submission deadlines for any updates based on annual budget policies.

STEP 6: Determine if there are any limitations for the available funding

Most funding opportunity announcements will explicitly list allowable costs and unallowable costs.  READ CAREFULLY and be respectful of any limitations when preparing budget requests.

STEP 7: Review the funding opportunity announcement CAREFULLY (note any unusual terms)

Confirm that you are responding to an appropriate funding solicitation.  Said another way, if the funder does not accept unsolicited applications, DO NOT APPLY without invitation.

Ask yourself questions like the following as you review the FOA:

  • When is the application due? Is there time to write an application of quality?
  • Is a Letter of Intent due before the application? If so, what is the deadline?
  • Do we need institutional endorsement before we can submit?  Talk to your research administrator about any plans for submission.  There may be internal deadlines or internal requirements you need to satisfy in order to obtain endorsement for submission.
  • What are the budget constraints? Is enough money available to actually implement the project if awarded?
  • How does the funder want to be contacted? (e.g., email, hard copy, electronic portal)
  • Do we have the facilities, equipment, and resources in place to implement the project in the time frame stated if awarded?
  • What are the formatting guidelines?
  • How do I submit?  Is this a paper submission or an electronic submission?  If it is electronic, do I need to establish an account or registry before submission?

Download a summary of the 7 steps via the grant funding search checklist which includes embedded links to a few searchable funding databases.  The checklist is intended to help you easily keep track of individualized searches by project and PI/PD.  Fingers crossed that the grant funding search checklist proves to be a useful and time saving resource. Good luck with your searches!


Author: Jeanine Jesberg

Jeanine Jesberg is a grants consultant, Certified Research Administrator (CRA), and licensed clinical speech-language pathologist (CCC-SLP) specializing in work with academic institutions and non-profit organizations. Her multi-faceted career includes several positions, including Program Director, Director of Research Operations, and Executive Director, at the University of Chicago as well as Manager of Research Administration at Northwestern University with knowledge that spans strategic planning, conference planning, program management, budget development, research operations, and research administration. She also has over 15 years of experience as a speech-language pathologist in the roles of clinician, Clinical Instructor, Lecturer, private practice Founder/CEO, and speaker. Jeanine currently lives and works in Chicago, IL.

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