Writing grants is critical to funding research and achieving tenure. Two University of Phoenix grant writing experts, Dr. Louise Underdahl and Dr. Rodney Luster, created a multi-segment tutorial outlining grant writing basics for graduate students, nonprofit leaders, project managers, and other professionals seeking funding. The process of writing a grant might seem overwhelming, but understanding the process in advance empowers researchers and helps them think of effective, clear avenues to communicate.
Four Essential Prerequisites to Writing Grants
Underdahl and Luster explained that there are four essential basics for writing a grant. Every applicant should know these factors before they begin writing.
The four elements are:
- Preparing a successful submission
- Choosing funding sources that align with existing projects
- Knowing the donors
- Setting a strategy
In their one-hour primer, Underdahl and Luster focused on this introduction to grant writing and new writer basics. Underdahl started the session by sharing her failed attempts to secure funding as a newer researcher. After speaking with Luster, she had several enlightening moments. Luster had recently completed a thorough 60-hour course on grant writing, and he shared some of his own experiences and lessons.
Grant Writing Isn’t the Same as a Dissertation
Many researchers assume that their credentials, training, and years in academia set them up for automatic success in grant writing. Underdahl explained that this is not necessarily the case. Just as defending a dissertation requires extensive preparation, so does writing a grant. The right research and effort must be applied to every grant writing initiative to ensure that it is on target, clear, and substantiated with relevant findings.
Find the Right Donor
Luster suggested finding the right donor for an existing project first and then seeking to be understood. The donor should be interested in collaborating because the recipient’s work will benefit the provider of the grant. The cover letter must clearly and concisely communicate value for the provider. According to Luster, this value must be demonstrated in the first eight seconds of reading the letter, which reflects the average adult’s attention span.
Know the Five Simple Truths of Grant Writing
Luster and Underdahl explained that there are five simple truths to writing every grant.
- Don’t apply if you do not qualify
- Follow the instructions
- Research the donor
- Show how you’ll meet the provider’s objectives
- Follow the style and idea process
Grant Writing Nuances
According to Luster and Underdahl, grant writing includes nuances that can be difficult to understand. For example, the onus is on the applicant to reach out and establish a relationship with the grant officer. Also, many donors would rather work with a cohesive group than one person who wants to meet their own objectives, so applying as a team can provide an advantage.
Two Types of Grants
Researchers can apply for two types of grants. Project grants focus on the impacts to the beneficiaries. Research grants prioritize new, innovative approaches for engendering a paradigm shift in a specific field of expertise. Funds for both types may come from the government, individuals, or non-profit organizations. University of Phoenix has a DUNS number that researchers can use in the application process.
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