Finding and Evaluating Potential Funders

Securing funding for research or sponsored programs is a multi-stage process that involves:

  1. Evaluating your interests and needs;
  2. Defining short-, medium-, and long-term needs;
  3. Possibly conducting pilot work (gathering preliminary data; attending a conference or sponsored seminar; traveling to a special collection);
  4. Turning a need into a project;
  5. Researching and evaluating potential funders;
  6. Writing and submitting a proposal according to a funder’s guidelines;
  7. – probably revising that proposal and resubmitting; and, finally,
  8. Receiving the award and completing the project.

Technology has made the task of researching potential sponsors much easier, but old-fashioned methods are still some of the best ways to uncover good leads. Use a mix of the old and new for best effect:

  •  Review the sponsors listed on the Internal and External funding sources pages and bookmark the most likely ones for periodic review.
  •  Check with your professional organizations and successful colleagues to find out about small grants programs.
  •  Register to receive electronic notices from federal agencies automatically through
  •  Call or e-mail program officers to ask them about the programs they supervise and also about other programs they know of.
  • Volunteer to serve as a proposal reviewer.

You may find it helpful to fill out a Sponsor Evaluation Form (MSWord) for your best possibilities.