Frequently Asked Questions

Grant Seeking in General

1.  Are there any grants out there for my interests?

This is naturally uppermost in many faculty members' minds. There are several ways to find the answer. Ask your grants staff for suggestions. Ask your colleagues where they have obtained funding for their projects. Look for notices of funding opportunities in your disciplinary or professional journals and associations. Look for mention of funding sources in, or at the end of, scholarly articles published by your professional peers. There may be more opportunities than you realize.

2. What sorts of grants are available? How much can I ask for?

There are many types of grants available, ranging from small grants that fund travel to a professional conference or scholarly library for one individual to large multi-year grants that provide funding for research, equipment, scholarships, faculty development or other purposes.  Each funding agency publishes its own  guidelines to inform grant seekers exactly what sorts of activities they will support and the size of grant requests they will entertain.

3.  If I apply for a grant now, will I have the money in time for my purpose which starts in a month (two months, six months, a year)?

Some funders respond quickly to proposal submissions (within a month) but most take quite a bit longer. Larger private funders and government grant agencies often take six months or longer between due date for submissions and notification of applicants. Our advice: start work on applying for external funding long in advance of when you need the money. 

4.  I'm really busy. How much time and effort is involved with applying for a grant?

This varies greatly depending on how well formed your idea is and the complexity of the proposal requirements. Some grant programs require only a few pages, some require lengthy and complex narratives with sophisticated evaluation plans. Preparing a proposal to a program that makes small grants ($2,000 or less) to individuals may take only a week or two, whereas preparing a proposal to a program that makes large grants to institutions will require significant effort over several months. 

5.  What is the likelihood of success, i.e., receiving a grant award?

It depends! Some grant programs are very competitive, in the range of 5% or less of applicants receiving a grant.  Some programs have a much more encouraging success percentage.  There are many things you can do to improve the competitiveness of your proposal. Your grants staff can advise you. 

6.  A grant sounds too good to be true. Where is the catch? Why would an organization just give me money for my purposes?

Funding agencies have a variety of reasons for why they give away money, but they have one thing in common.  They want issues that are important to them addressed and are willing to give money to others who will work on those issues. Your challenge, as a grant seeker, is to convince the funder that you have the expertise, passion, vision, network (in short, the resources) to make a difference with their money.  

7. What kinds of expenses may I pay with a grant?

Again, it depends! Each funding program is different. Carefully read the funding program guidelines to see which types of expense that program will support. 

Grant Seeking at CSB/SJU

1.  How does grant seeking fit into my role as a faculty member? Shouldn't I focus on my teaching instead?

Grantseeking can energize your teaching by providing funding for research, travel or other scholarly projects.  A grant award is considered evidence of scholarly and creative work for purposes of faculty evaluation.

2. If I submit a proposal which is later declined by the funding agency, will that count against me for tenure and promotion purposes?

Absolutely not. Grantseeking is a skill learned through experience. If your initial attempts are not successful, this means only that you are not successful yet. Many grantseekers are successful on their second or third try.

3. How does an individual grant award differ from an institutional grant award?

It is a matter of who is ultimately responsible for the proper execution of the project and administration of grant funds:  you as an individual or the college. In some cases, the funder will offer a choice. In these cases, it is usually to the advantage of the faculty member to have the college administer their grant. Your grants staff can advise you in your particular circumstance.

4. What assistance is available to me as a grant seeker?

The grant office staff can advise you on strategy and process, assist with preparation of proposal documents, coordinate the internal approval process, and advise you on managing a grant award if one is made.

5. What is the purpose of the internal approval process?

When an institutional grant is made, the funding agency holds the institution responsible for all aspects of successful project execution, including the financial aspects.  So that all involved staff are fully aware of their obligations and responsibilities should a grant be made, we use a pre-submission proposal review by grants office staff, academic affairs officers and business office staff. 

6. Is there a fee for this assistance?  Does the grants office take a percentage of any grants awarded?

We do not charge a fee for assistance.  However, if a funder allows indirect (a.k.a., administrative and facilities) cost recovery, we will almost always include those costs in a proposal budget.  The percentage will vary depending on the grant program and other factors.  Ask the grants staff how indirect costs will affect your proposal, if at all.