10 Steps to get from an Idea to Funding

Below is an overview of how to take an idea for something you would like to do from just an idea to an actual funded project.

  1. Develop a GOOD idea for a funded project. Develop a clear vision for your research and outreach agenda. What is the current state of practice and research in this field? What are some problems that really need to be solved? How will your idea be better and more powerful than what is currently happening? Your agenda for research and/or outreach needs to be based on what you really care about and want to do. This work is no fun if you don’t have a strong motivation to do it.  Know what you want to do before you look for funding.
  2. Create a team to work with. Share your vision for what you want to do with others and look for partners. You might want to join an existing research group or create your own. Invite graduate students to join your research and grant writing group. It is great for their education while they can help you. If possible talk to people who are doing similar projects to what you want to do.
  3. Attend a Grant Writing Workshop put on by experienced grant writers.
  4. Use available resources to find possible Requests for Proposals (RFPs). Go to the Grant Writing Resources on the web-site like grants.gov. Learn how to search for the appropriate funding opportunities. Explore Foundations as well as state and national funding sources
  5. Once you have found an RFP you want to write for, IMMEDIATELY send a copy of the RFP to your Research Administrator (Dawn Gonzales or Veronica Bulla), and to the Associate Dean for Research
  6. Learn to love your RFP or RFA. And I mean really love it. View it through the eyes of the funding agency. What are they looking for? What is the problem you want to solve? Is there a fit between this RFP and the work you truly want to do?
  7. Use grant writing tools on website. Do a Gap Analysis with an end in mind, a current needs and strengths statement, and then develop a program to fill the gap from need to grant goals/outcomes.
  8. Write your draft narrative. Begin with a word processing program to create a format for the grant that follows the needed sections of the grant as listed in the RFP. Include the criteria that will be used to evaluate your proposal in each section of the grant and make sure your narrative meets how your proposal will be evaluated.
  9. Ask others to read the proposal and give you feedback. Ask for input from knowledgeable others including program officers in the agency you want to ask for funds. Talk to the agencies. Get to know what the agencies want.
  10. Don’t give up after one try.  (Sometimes you just get a critical group of readers.) Many grants are awarded on the second or third try. Listen to the feedback and revise.

Important Advice:  Grants that are asking for funds because they are asking for funds are usually not funded. Ask for funds to solve a problem and demonstrate how you will use the funds to do that.