So You Want to Write a Grant?

You're thinking about writing a grant, bringing in new resources to develop your research, funding a training or model project, supporting professional travel, procuring equipment, or employing graduate/undergraduate students? Yes?

What can you do to prepare for the writing of a grant proposal? What are the crucial first steps? Summer is a good time to develop a project and explore how to get it funded. This up-front work will have lasting benefit for you, both in terms of developing and refining your ideas, and in learning more about how and why agencies and organizations make grants.

1. Develop a working proposal. To begin, outline a conceptual framework of your project, be it research, training, direct service, or equipment acquisition. Define and document project needs, determine the context of your project within the field, and know what's being done about the problem or need at this time. Describe your approach, methodology or strategies to achieve results and benefits. Consider your qualifications to carry out this project successfully. Develop a tentative timeline. Finally, estimate a budget for the project. Once you have a concept paper or project design outline, you can share it with colleagues, and, ultimately, with funding sources—a step which usually establishes the basis of a long-term relationship with granting organizations.

2. Get to know funding agencies. With your ideas and an approach now on paper, it's time to learn more about who funds projects like yours. In addition to consulting the funding reference literature, begin to use the World Wide Web and agency home pages to explore funding organization personalities, priorities, key players, new initiatives, and policy development activities, which will aid you in knowing more about those you intend to approach. Ask how much support is available for different programs, how many awards were made in the last round, what the average award was, and if you may see or copy successful proposals.

When you do contact individuals at funding agencies, know what your project and what you intend to achieve, be familiar with the relevant literature and trends in your field, and be familiar with the agency, its history, imperatives, and policies. Ask about project compatibility with agency priorities and interests. Ask to review preliminary proposals, and seek guidance in finalizing your application .

Now, having developed the core of a full proposal and initiated a relationship with agencies and organizations who have an interest in your work, you can move on to the application process. The Office of Sponsored Programs at Chico State will help you with the application. Building your ideas into a complete proposal and building relationships with potential funders clearly enhance your chances of success. Sending proposals cold to agencies decreases your chances for receiving a grant. Most research in this area indicates that prior contact with an agency official is the key element in application success.

Please contact our office with any questions you may have or for any support we can provide in the project development, application preparation, and relationship-building processes.

Robert J. Bakke, Sponsored Programs

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