Locating and Choosing a Funding Source
This document has a list of different funding sources, including government agencies, foundations, associations, and research centers.
Many campuses support faculty with internal grant programs. Using the California State University (CSU) as one example, these may include:
- Professional development, research, and creative activity grants
- Research seed money
- Travel funds allocated for particular events, or to present at particular conferences
- Stipends to try new technologies or teaching strategies and study their impact on student learning
- Outstanding scholar awards
Information about these awards often comes from the Faculty Development Center, the campus foundation, or through departments or colleges themselves. In addition to these local campus awards, there are CSU system-wide monies available such as the Wang Award to support outstanding scholarship. In addition, each campus has an office dedicated to identifying and expanding opportunities for faculty to obtain external funding.
The office may have different names, such as Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, or Division of Research Affairs, or Grants, Research, and Sponsored Programs, but all have the same basic charge of supporting faculty and others who seek, apply for, and manage external funding for the work they do on campus. A wide array of external funding is also available from sources such as foundations, corporations, and professional organizations. Allocating the time to determine what is available is well worth the investment. It is expected that faculty members will learn how to go about locating appropriate resources for their work.
Match Funding to Purpose of Research
Most funding agencies have a mission or goals they hope to accomplish, and the desire to further them is the reason they offer money to researchers. The more effectively the research project furthers those goals, the more likely it is to be funded. Reading the guidelines from each agency carefully will avoid a lot of wasted time applying for funding from places that are not interested since the work does not align with their objectives.
Match Funding to the Size of the Project
Generally small funding agencies provide support for small projects, large ones for large projects. Matching the size of a "suggested range" of proposals as described by the agency will increase the chances that a proposal is funded. Local or community agencies often offer smaller grants (under $10,000), regional agencies are likely to offer larger awards in the middle range ($10,000-$100,000) and national or international agencies are most likely to offer larger awards (over $100,000). There are exceptions to this general description, but if in doubt it is best to contact the agency and ask about the average anticipated award amounts to be clear before applying.
Read the RFP Carefully
Granting agencies or organizations carefully spell out the types of projects they hope to fund. The closer a grant proposal meets the guidelines outlined in the Request for Proposal (RFP), the more likely it will be funded. Take the time to make certain that the activities in the proposal meet all criteria, timelines, and purposes indicated. Missing details in the RFP, or failing to follow all guidelines closely is a frequent reason proposals are not funded.
Grant Search Strategies
Agencies that provide grants for research activities make considerable effort to get the word out to appropriate individuals and institutions and encourage them to apply for support. Most campuses have departments or individuals dedicated to supporting faculty members as they apply for grants, sometimes through the campus itself, other times through an affiliated foundation. In addition to contacting these individuals on your campus, check with faculty professional development centers, and campus administrators. After checking those places, contact professional and governmental organizations since many of them offer grant monies. It is very convenient to do an internet search of grant monies as well, but be sure to target the sources of monies very carefully to avoid spending large amounts of time following up on inappropriate sources that have different goals and objectives than your own.
Examples of Funding Sources
Government Agency Funding
Health and Human Services
This federal grants search site is the managing partner for the Department of Health and Human Services.
Office of Extramural Research
National Institutes of Health
This site offers basics about the grant application process, lists types of grants available, describes an overview of the peer review process, and many other helpful details.
Grants and Contracts Website
Office of Science, US Department of Energy
This site offers funding to colleges and universities, non-profit organizations, for-profit commercial organizations, state and local governments, and unaffiliated individuals.
US Department of Agriculture
USDA funds are provided to researchers to address national problems and needs related to agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and communities.
Business Research Opportunities
Office of Extramural Research, National Institutes of Health
This site provides a collection of funding opportunities in the area of small business innovation.
Mathematical Sciences Program
National Security Agency
This program was started in response to an urgent need for faculty in mathematics and supports unclassified research in particular areas of mathematics.
The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation
This foundation welcomes proposals from any of the natural and social sciences and the humanities that promise to increase understanding of the causes, manifestations, and control of violence, aggression, and dominance.
The Foundation's research grants are organized around broad topics of importance for educational improvement: (1) relationship between education and social opportunity, (2) organizational learning in schools, school systems, and higher education, (3) teaching, learning, and instructional resources, and (4) purposes and values of education.
National Endowment for the Humanities
The Endowment sponsors programs around particular problems that evolve with changing needs.
Cancer and Leukemia Group B Clinical Scholar Award for CALGB Oncology Junior Faculty
The Cancer and Leukemia Group B Foundation
This grant is available to junior faculty studying particular innovations in cancer treatment.
AERA Grants Program
American Educational Research Association
With support from the National Science Foundation, this research grants program seeks to stimulate research on U.S. education issues using data from the large-scale national and international data sets. It supports quantitative projects that analyze existing date from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), National Science Foundation (NSF) or other federal agencies.
American Federation for Aging Research
The major goal of this program is to assist in the development of careers of junior investigators committed to pursuing careers in the field of aging research. The site offers examples of promising areas of research.
Grants and Fellowships
American Sociological Association
The American Sociological Association offers a number of applied research grants and social policy fellowships in sociology.
International Research & Exchanges Board
IREX offers a range of professional, scholarly research, and small grant opportunities for international individuals.
World Oral Literature Project
University of Cambridge
This site supports local communities and committed fieldworkers engaged in the collection of oral literature by providing funding for original research.
International Security & Foreign Policy Program
Smith Richardson Foundation
This program offers support to junior faculty and doctoral students conducting research on American foreign policy, international relations, international security, military policy, and diplomatic and military history. These grants are offered annually.
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
This group supports investigations of 1-5 years duration by experienced scientists for basic or clinical research relevant to their mission.
Office of Research Listings
Funding Search Engines
Office of Research, University of California Riverside
This database is one example of the ways faculty members may find funding for projects.
Research Funding for New and Young Faculty
Sponsored Projects Office, University of California Berkeley
This site lists organizations and programs by field of study and, deadlines, and provides a synopsis of what the organization is looking for with their support.
Vice Chancellor for Research and Federal Relations, University of North Carolina, Charlotte
This site is an example of the way campuses organize and provide guidelines for possible funding sources.
Junior Faculty Research Grants and Career Development Awards
Health Sciences, University of Utah
This site lists many awards available for application only by junior faculty.
Grant Programs for Young Investigators
Office of Sponsored Research, University of New Hampshire
This chart is a compilation of a summary of programs designed to support young faculty with grant monies.
Centers of Research
Small Grants Competition
Center for Poverty Research, University of California at Davis
The UC Davis Center for Poverty Research annually solicits proposals for its Small Grants from junior faculty from all disciplines.
Source: Robin D. Marion, https://cdip.merlot.org/facultyresearch/LocateandChooseaFundingSource.html
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License.