10 Simple Tips to Take the Headache out of Grant Applications

Industry News, Tutorials and Tips, Underwater Discovery and Research

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As we move through the month of September, schools and research institutions are continuing their projects and funding opportunities are presenting themselves. Research is an extremely important aspect of many development initiatives but sometimes the tools needed to complete a research project can be costly and difficult to access without a little help. Thankfully there are a number of different sources and donors who are willing to help fund projects like yours. Funding sources can come in different forms like grants, scholarships, loans, bursaries, etc. The majority of these funding sources require you to undergo an application process that often involves a description of your research/project and demonstrates the planning you have done/are planning to do.

We have a number of customers who rely on grants in order to acquire the funds to the buy the equipment, like Deep Trekker ROVs, for their research. We believe that we have the perfect product to help with marine research and we are thrilled to be contributing to the industry. We understand that grant writing can be cumbersome so we always try to do everything that we can to help. Here are some suggestions that we have to make your grant application process easier.

As always, we are also available to share resources, answer questions and help you brainstorm ways to write a creative application so that you can get set up with a Deep Trekker ROV.

1. Apply EARLY and OFTEN. Most definitely BEFORE the deadline.

This may seem like common sense, but a lot of people feel like they work better with a bit of last minute stress. That being said, donors receive numerous applications for funding so the sooner you are able to submit yours, the more chance there is that they will read your application with a fresh head. If you wait until the last minute to submit your proposal, there is a good chance that it will get lost among all of the other applications and not stand out as much.
Applying often is just as important. The more you apply to a number of different grants, the greater your chances of acceptance are. There are a number of different funding sources out there, you just have to be willing to put in the time and seek them out.

2. Follow the guidelines and instructions very closely.

As mentioned above, the deciding bodies are busy. They are busy with their work as well as reading through numerous applications. They lay out guidelines for writing your proposal to make their lives easier when it comes to making a decision. If you decide that you would like to write your proposal using a different format or by picking and choosing which information you provide then you are making their lives more difficult. They have to look harder to find specific components of your project and it could make the difference between you receiving the funding or not.

3. Make a General Proposal first.

While most sources of funding have very specific guidelines for their applications, if you try to start from scratch for every proposal you write then you will end up spending your entire life filling out applications. That is why it is a good idea to write a general proposal and budget before applying to a single application. In your general proposal include all of the necessary components that are asked for the in majority of applications. These usually include an introduction, executive summary, statement of need, project description, budget, organization information, and conclusion (learn more about these components here). From there you can draw from your general proposal and tweak it where needed. This will save you a lot of time and stress and leave you with more time to review and edit your work at the end.

4. Don’t let your introduction drag on.

Keep the meaty stuff for the description. The introduction should simply cover the key elements of your proposal: statement of the problem, the purpose of your research, goals and objectives, and significance of the research. This is where you have the opportunity to show how your research proposal is different from other research on the same topic. What makes yours stand out? Will you be covering new methodologies? List only your principle goals and objectives, sub-objectives can be stated later on. Keep it short and concise but cover the most important aspects. Save your reader’s time.

5. Clearly outline the resources that are needed for you to carry out your project.

Depending on the outline they require, this can be integrated into the budget or have a section of its own.
This is where we come in.
It is best if you are able to acquire the exact costs associated with your equipment. Though all companies are different, we at Deep Trekker will always help you through the application process to provide you with everything you might need to describe why you chose the product you did. Knowing the cost before submitting your application rather than sending an estimate keeps your donors from questioning the costs of your required equipment.

6. Tackle the literature review properly (if they ask).

This is not a personal review or place to share your opinion of what other authors have said about your research topic. A literature review simply discusses published articles and information for a specific subject area, sometimes within a specific time frame. The focus of a literature review is to analyze and synthesize what has already been said on the subject matter, it is not an area to add your own contributions or bring in new ideas. While not offering your opinions, it is important to explore different views and contradicting opinions surrounding your topic of study to show that you have done a thorough review of what is already out there. In many cases donors want to make sure that they are contributing to innovative and new subject matter, not funding something that already has been explored extensively.

7. Make sure that you have an effective evaluation method.

Most donors want to make sure that their donations are actually going towards research that will make a difference. As such, explaining that you are serious about how you test your methods and research shows that you take the results seriously. How are you going to tell if what you are studying is actually having an effect on something else? Be sure to explain this portion clearly and carefully. That being said it is also a good idea to mention the ways in which you are planning on sharing the information once you have completed your research. Do you plan to publish it anywhere, will the public be able to access it, will members of the industry be able to use your findings to help them and further their own work and research? These are all important factors that should be mentioned within your proposal.

8. Who you choose to seek funding from can make all of the difference as well.

If you are planning on doing marine research, you should not be seeking funding from donors looking to help fund nursing research. If you can find a donor who has similar interests and then angle your proposal so that it explains how your specific research can help a problem that they are concerned with then your chances of acquiring the resources you need are much higher.

9. Ask Questions. Simple as that.

If you are not sure about how you should go about filling in a specific section, or whether you have included everything your donor is looking for, just ask. Some may think that this does not seem professional, but taking initiative and clarifying before submitting your application can make you look prepared. In most cases it is better to ask than guess. That being said, they are busy people so do not pester them with little questions and try to figure out the answer yourself first. Waiting until the night before the application is due to ask questions may reflect poorly on you, so make sure you do so in advance.

10. Edit, edit, edit.

I know you have probably heard this before. Everyone’s teachers all throughout elementary, high-school and University/college have always stressed the importance of editing your work. Your proposal is no different. Once finished writing you may just want to give it a quick read over and be done with it. Treat it with more importance than this. You are asking for potentially a lot of money to undertake a project that suits your interests so give it the time it deserves. Read it over multiple times, read it out loud and have more than one other person look it over. Simple grammatical errors are easy to miss but can make all the difference between seeming professional and not-detail oriented.

Good luck to everyone and remember that if you ever need our help when explaining how an ROV may suit your work we are always happy to help. Put in the time and effort that your project deserves and apply often.

Additional Sources on Grant Proposals (also sources used):
http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/grant-proposals-or-give-me-the-money/
http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/literature-reviews/
http://foundationcenter.org/getstarted/tutorials/shortcourse/index.html
http://www.learnerassociates.net/proposal/
http://nonprofit.about.com/od/foundationfundinggrants/tp/grantproposalhub.htm

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