Step 1: • Generating your idea • Step 6: Managing Your Award Grant Writing 101 • Step 5: Revising your Proposal • Step 2: • Finding Funding • Step 3: • Developing your proposal • Step 4: • Submitting your • proposal Presented by the Office of Sponsored Programs
The Importance of Good Grantsmanship At the core of any competitive grant application – no matter what the field of endeavor – is a great idea, one based on strong scholarship and/or excellent science, and one that is fresh, innovative, and significant. Such ideas may fill gaps in the existing knowledge base, thereby advancing scholarship in the field, or may address important needs or lead to the development of useful applications. In a highly competitive grant environment, however, it takes more than a good idea to be successful in obtaining a grant award. After all, the majority of grant competitors also have good ideas. To make a grant application as compelling and competitive as possible, a good idea plus good grantsmanship are essential.
What This Workshop Is All About A successful proposal represents the accumulation of marginal advantage gained from a series of decisions made during each step of the project planning and proposal development process. Assessing readiness. Before preparing a grant application, the investigator should determine – as objectively as possible – not only that a compelling idea is being developed, but that the qualifications, resources, and preliminary data required to be competitive are also in place. Competitive applications exhibit strength in all of these areas. Identifying funding opportunities. Before preparing a grant application, the investigator should identify the kind of funding mechanism required (i.e., to conduct a full-scale research project, to gather preliminary data, to purchase equipment, to obtain a fellowship, etc.). Competitive applications include requests only for allowable funds. Analyzing the funding agency. Before preparing a grant application, the investigator should research the target funding agency to gather information on its mission, strategic plan, and investment priorities. Competitive applications closely align with and support the agency’s goals and objectives.
About The Workshop (Cont.) Reading the proposal solicitation. The investigator should read the proposal solicitation carefully and in its entirety to garner as much information as possible about the kind and scope of research the program will support and to identify specific proposal requirements. Competitive applications fully address all of the solicitation’s requirements, and do so in the order and manner requested. Understanding the review process. The investigator should learn as much as possible about the reviewers, the review process, and the review criteria being used to evaluate an application. Competitive applications fully address all review criteria. Drafting the application. The pages of a grant application are the only means of communicating a proposed idea to reviewers. Therefore, it is critical that the investigator communicate his or her idea in the most organized, logical, and understandable manner possible. After all, if reviewers have difficulty understanding the proposed idea, they will be unlikely – and perhaps even unable – to advocate on the investigator’s behalf during the review. Competitive applications communicate ideas clearly and convey passion, excitement, and commitment to the proposed project.
Set Aside Ample Time to Prepare a Grant Application Crafting a competitive application – one that presents a great idea and supports the presentation of that idea with good grantsmanship – can require a significant investment of time. Lead time is needed to identify, refine, and assess the proposed idea. Time to think – to reflect on the idea, consider it from every angle, allow related ideas to surface, synthesize these ideas, and, finally, bring everything into sharp focus. Work time is needed to draft the application, have the application vetted by colleagues, revise and edit the text, and request and obtain supplementary materials such as letters of support. Wrap-up time is needed to route the application and budget and to upload the proposal (if submitting electronically) or photocopy and mail it (if submitting a hard copy).
The “So What?” Factor Step 1: Generating Your Idea A strong idea should pass the “so what” test. Think about the potential impact of the project you are proposing: What do you intend to do? Why is the work important? What has already been done? How are you going to do the work? If you cannot make a definitive statement about the purpose of your project, it is unlikely to be funded.
Assessing the Idea A Good Idea –– • Is based on strong scholarship and/or excellent science • Is fresh, innovative, and significant Warning – A good idea, in an of itself, does not necessarily merit funding To merit funding, the idea must be closely aligned with and supportive of the agency’s mission, strategic plan, and investment priorities (see Step 2)
Know What You Are Looking For Step 2: Finding Funding Wide variety of funding programs, funding types and resources WHERE to start? Sponsored Programs Office (!) Funding Agency Websites Professional/Scholarly Organizations Search Engines WHAT to look for? A match between you and the grantmaker. Does your idea fit the funder’s priorities? Does the funder make grants that meet your needs? What kinds of activities do they fund? Who can apply? Is the deadline realistic?
Understanding Sponsorship Government agencies and private foundation funding supports a wide range of activities: expanding scientific knowledge, promoting social equality, and, fostering economic development. Government agencies disburse tax dollars to meet public needs that have been recognized by Congress or state legislatures In many cases, the agencies authority to spend is broadly defined and funding criteria can vary widely. Foundation grant making is more idiosyncratic; greater discretion in disbursing their funds Not at the mercy of legislative or congressional initiatives Often necessary to “build a relationship” Both groups have the requirement to spend their money wisely and support projects that hold the greatest promise of making a real contribution to their area of concern
Know the Grantmaker Grantmakers, whether federal or nonfederal, don’t fund what you want to do; they fund work that furthers their mission. Knowing and understanding the mission, strategic plan, investment priorities, and culture of a funding agency is key to developing a competitive proposal. Agencies fund only very good ideas that are clearly developed and tightly linked to their mission, vision, and strategic plan.
If you need the money now, you’ve started too late! Start Early! Many grant programs only have one annual deadline. Build a list of potential funding sources Keep a “Plan in the Can”
Putting Your Ideas Into A Project Format Step 3: Developing Your Proposal Answer these questions: Who? What? How? How much? Why are you doing the work? Why is it worth doing? Where is the work going? Standard parts of a grant application: Abstract Introduction Literature Review Project Narrative Personnel Budget and Budget Justification
Tip: Sponsors Fund Activities, Not Ideas No matter how good your ideas or noble your intentions, you must translate them into a specific set of activities to get funded.
Getting Started Read the program solicitation The RFP represents an invitation by a funding agency for applicants to submit requests for funding in research areas of interest to the agency. The RFP contains most of the essential information the researcher needs in order to develop and write a competitive proposal that is fully responsive to the agency’s funding objectives and review criteria.
Developing the Proposal The proposal is an application to receive funding for a project. It contains information regarding who plans to do the work, how it will be done, and what it will cost. Parts of a Proposal Most proposals follow a similar format. There may be some variation depending on the type of sponsored activity (research, conference, training grant) Common components include: • Title/Cover Page • Abstract and/or summary • Introduction and/or specific aims and/or objectives • Background/significance (including Literature Review) • Project Plan (including Methods or Approach) • Institutional Resources • Bibliography/References • Personnel/Biographical sketch • Budget and Budget justification
Drafting the Proposal Assume that the reviewer is a busy, impatient, skeptical person who has no reason to give your proposal special consideration and who is faced with many more requests than he can grant, or even read thoroughly. Such a reader wants to find out quickly and easily the answers to these questions: • What do you want to do, how much will it cost, and how much time will it take? • How does the proposed project relate to the sponsor's interests? • What difference will the project make to: your university, your students, your discipline, the state, the nation, the world, or whatever the appropriate categories are? • What has already been done in the area of your project? • How do you plan to do it? • How will the results be evaluated? • Why should you, rather than someone else, do this project?
Developing the Budget A competitive budget is one that contains a request for the amount that is needed to complete the proposed project – no more, no less – that is based on real costs, and that is fully justified. • A well prepared budget should be reasonable and demonstrate that the funds being asked for will be used wisely. • It must comply with the sponsor's guidelines; certain items may be disallowed. For example, some sponsors will not allow purchases that are normally supported by indirect cost funds, such as secretarial support. Some sponsors may limit such costs as travel or publication support. • It is both an estimate and a firm offer on the part of the university. After an award has been made, re-negotiation is difficult.
Budget Justification The budget justification allows the applicant to explain in much more detail the raw budget numbers by category, requested amounts, and proportional importance to the project In short, the budget justification should include a clear and persuasive explanation of why each budget request is needed, and this explanation should include sufficient detail to allow program managers and reviewers to understand how the budget request was calculated and to be assured that the request is reasonable. In addition, the justification should include a clear and persuasive explanation of any unusual expenses, as well as a rationale for any escalation of costs (e.g., for personnel) from one project year to the next.
Approval and Review Step 4: Submitting Your Application Approval? Why? Grants are contracts between the granting agency and the University. A grant award obligates the University to the fiscal management and programmatic oversight of the project. The Grant Sign-Off Sheet assures that the resources are available and the faculty member is committed to carrying out the project as planned if the grant is awarded The Grant Sign-Off Sheet is to be reviewed and signed by: the Principle Investigator, Chair of the Department, Dean, and Provost. The Sponsored Research Office will assist in completing the routing process.
Overview of the Proposal Development and Submission Process All funding agencies require some level of institutional approval of applications they receive. Most agencies, especially federal ones, require approval from the university's Authorized Official (AO). At Longwood, the AO is the Vice-President for Financial and Administrative Affairs The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) is responsible for the oversight, support, coordination, and submission of all applications for external funds. OSP will provide assistance with proposal writing, editing, review and assistance with budget preparation, and/or preparation of time-line charts, other charts and graphs, preparation of forms, etc. upon request. All proposals must be submitted to OSP at least five (5) working days prior to the submission deadline in order to undergo an administrative review prior to submission. The Office of Sponsored Programs is the only entity authorized to submit external grant proposals for LU.
Compliance Components The introduction of sponsored activities at Longwood obligates the University to comply with numerous federal, state and local regulations regarding the ethical and responsible conduct of research. Typical compliance concerns include: Conflict of Interest, Export Control, Use of Human Subjects and Animals in Research,Responsible Conduct of Research and Scientific Misconduct, Intellectual Property and Commercialization. Compliance review committees include: Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee Institutional Review Board (IRB)– Use of Human Subjects, Environmental Health, Bio-safety and Radiation Safety
The Decision Step 5: Revising Your Proposal Didn’t get funded? Don’t be discouraged! National funding is very difficult to achieve and usually takes several tries. The Good News? Revised proposals tend to have higher funding rates than new proposals, so keep in mind that a better proposal can help clarify your work and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your research – thereby saving you time and energy in the long run.
Why Grants Fail Bad ideas Good ideas poorly presented No documented need statement Lack of measurable objectives Target population not clearly identified Methods not well thought out Weak evaluation approach Inadequate dissemination strategy Inexperienced project director A phantom collaboration Failure to follow the guidelines Poor budget justification The biggest reason why grant applications fail? A lack of money
Keys to Developing a Successful Proposal Start EARLY. It takes time to do a good job. Choose sponsors with funding priorities that MATCH your needs and strengths. Have an idea before you look for potential sponsors. Know your needs and strengths. TARGETyour audience. Write the proposal after you have identified the audience. Different audiences may require different versions. Know all you can about reviewers and the review process. EMPATHIZEwith reviewers. Reviewers' job is to pick the best proposals. There's pressure to avoid risk. Reviewers' job is difficult--make it as easy as possible.
A Good Proposal Does These Things A GOOD PROPOSAL DOES THESE THINGS: Gets the reader's attention. Convinces reviewers that your project is significant--worth doing. Reassures them with your technical and practical competence. Provides a model of the quality of work they can expect in the project products. Follows agency guidelines!
Writing Tips REMEMBER: Your writing should be aimed at making it EASY for the reviewer to see the merit in your proposal. Think about the questions the reviewers are trying to answer. Your writing tells the reviewer a lot about you--originality, planning, clarity, attention to detail. BEGIN TO WRITE EARLY It can take weeks or months to prepare a good proposal. Set deadlines. Leave time to think, plan, outline, write, revise, get comments, revise, polish, get administrative approval. READ AND FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY Stay within page limits. Put information only where it belongs. Use a checklist.