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Funding Source Selection

Selection of a suitable funding source is one of the most important factors in a successful proposal.  Basic information about sponsors and programs can usually be obtained from on-line searches and the sponsor’s Web site. Paper announcements sent to the University by the sponsor contain this information as well, but hard-copy notices are becoming less common.  In selecting the proper funding source, one should keep in mind the following:

  • Areas of Interest or Objectives:  The sponsor usually describes the type of research they intend to support and/or have supported in the past, or the problem they wish to address by funding specific projects.  The applicant should determine if his or her idea is consistent with the basic philosophy and goals of the sponsor. 

  • Review Criteria and Funding Priorities:  The sponsor will often indicate a preference for certain types of applicants and/or projects as well as the criteria by which proposals will be evaluated.  The applicant should decide if he or she and/or project idea would be considered a priority by the sponsor.  

  • Funding Limit and Duration:  The sponsor will indicate the dollar limit and number of years they intend to fund the project.  They may also restrict whether project renewals will be funded.  The applicant should practically and realistically evaluate whether the project could be completed within the specified period of time and for the amount of money the sponsor has indicated.  This may require that the applicant prepare a timetable and preliminary budget.

  • Applicant Restrictions:  Some sponsors, especially federal agencies, restrict applicants to U.S. residents or citizens.  Programs will usually indicate whether the institution must be a non-profit organization, a state agency or a college or university.  There are also special programs directed toward funding minorities or women or individuals with special needs.  The applicant must meet the restrictions dictated by the sponsor.

  • Budgetary Requirements and Restrictions:  In addition to the total dollar limit for the project, the sponsor will usually indicate if there are restrictions in specific budget categories (such as salaries, travel and equipment) as well as the level of facilities and administrative (F&A or indirect) costs they will cover.  Some sponsors also require cost share or matching funds and may indicate the kind or source of funds that would be acceptable.  Cost share or matching funds are provided by the University and/or outside agencies and cover a portion of the total cost of the project.  If an applicant is considering a program that includes mandatory cost share, he or she must first determine if the funds are available.  This frequently requires coordination with the pre-award section of OGCS and approval from the Vice President for Research.

  • Deadlines:  Most sponsors will indicate a deadline date by which proposals must be received.  In some cases the sponsor will request a letter of intent or a pre-proposal by a certain date.  In any case, the applicant must determine if the information the sponsor has requested can be prepared and reviewed in time to meet the deadline.