Tips to ensure your project is funded

Tips of the Trade ImageQ: “I need to write my first grant application. What are the elements I need to include to ensure that my project is funded?”

A: Elaine M. Hull, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Florida State University, and the recipient of 20 years of NIH funding, shares these basics tips for writing a proposal:

“1) The proposed research should answer an important question, have justification based on previous work and/or pilot data, and have a reasonable end point. Emphasize hypothesis testing, as opposed to a ‘fishing expedition.’ State how the outcome of the project will relate back to the ‘Big Issues’; 2) Present the idea clearly. Organize paragraphs and write in short, clear sentences. Anticipate potential questions and criticisms. A diagram is worth more than the space it takes up; 3) Don’t be discouraged by rejection. It’s unusual to get funding from the NSF or NIH on the first try. Seek advice from a person in the grant agency or another expert in the field.”

A: Kären Hess, the author or co-author of more than 30 trade books and college-level textbooks on a variety of topics including financial planning, dental marketing, art, literature, engineering, hospice care, reading, management and report writing:

“Key is a worthwhile idea about which the proposal writer is passionate, carefully formulated with a good chance of success. If there is an RFP, follow the guidelines exactly. Research the foundation and match the proposal to their stated mission statement.

Include a cover letter, a cover page, table of contents, statement of needs (problem statement), proposed solution or program strategy, goals and objectives, how and by whom implemented, timeline, pricing, how evaluated, qualifications of those involved (some grantors request resumes of all key personnel) and references if applicable.

As with book proposals, presentation is critical — – the axiom you never get a second chance to make a first impression applies. Use a good printer and quality paper with a professionally appearing binder. Never submit a handwritten proposal.”