Grant and Grantsmanship - Grant Guide Series - Part One

In this series of Grant Guide, we are going to provide a comprehensive guide that can help our esteem readers secure grant funding for their project. Grant is a fund provided by an organization or third party for the execution of a research project or community development activity. Such funding usually comes with strict conditions that must be met starting from the application process to the implementation.

Guide Topics:
1. Definitions of Grant and Grantsmanship
2. Types of Grants
3. How to Access Grants
4. How to Apply For Grant
5. Review Process for the Short-listed Proposals
6. Sources of Grant


As noted earlier Grant is a fund provided by an organization or third party for the execution of a research project or community development activity. Grantsmanship, on the other hand, implies the ability to attract funds from prospective aid providers towards a project.

It is simply about raising funds for research projects from different sources. Winning grants is a difficult exercise because a prospective grantee usually competes with hundreds or sometimes thousands of applicants.

Funding agencies often support very small numbers among the prospective applicants for their grants. Consequently, any prospective applicant must recognize the fact that he/she is participating in a highly competitive exercise.

The capacity to submit the right proposal together and get a grant is critical. It is considered a serious business in high-income countries. As such, training programmes are organized to develop the capacity of would-be researchers to attract grants. By and large, most developing nations scholars' institutions lack the skill to attract huge grants.

Grant has been described to be a lifeline of most research projects and community development activities in some developing countries. In this series we will attempt to:
  • define grantsmanship; 
  • provide an overview of how grants can be attracted or accessed by scholars and community projects; 
  • how to scale through the first hurdle of application; 
  • as well as the review process for research proposals. 
The series will also focus on the scoring of proposals by a selection committee including the criteria for selection. Finally, some concluding remarks on the importance of grant and grantsmanship will be proffered.

In the academic world, no university or research institution on the globe can provide all the fund needed by its scholars to pursue their research interest. At best research institutions like universities where researchers are concentrated merely earmark very small amounts of money from their annual budget for research among their staff members.

Indeed, universities worldwide expect their staff and research students to source for funds from external bodies for their research projects. It is from such external grants that they are able to pursue their research interest and also support the work of their graduate students.

External grants can be sourced from government, foundations, and the private sector. Bilateral such as USAID, DFID and multilateral agencies like the UN agencies also support research with their funds. Universities in high-income countries (e.g., the US and UK) are well funded by their governments through a variety of government-sponsored research initiatives.

Universities benefit from funds for space or stem cell research in the US. Secondly, universities and research institutions in the high-income countries work hand-in-hand with private companies and through this strategy are able to garner funds for research and product development.

Types of Grants

Grant opportunities are some times organized according to selection criteria. Categories of Grants include those targeted at a particular country or region, the grant for undergraduate research and graduate students project, Grants for human rights bodies, journalists, professional community development funding, and grants for women projects.

There ear different kinds of grants given by different funding organizations, however, grants can be classified broadly into three different categories based on the type of project:
1. Research Project Grant
2. Community Awareness, Sensitisation and development Project Grant
3. Production Project Grant

How to Access Grants

Accessing grants will depend on having adequate knowledge, These knowledge include:
  1. Adequate information about the funding agencies
  2. Good enough knowledge of the research interest of the funding agencies
  3. Adequate expertise of their requirements and guidelines for the development of proposals.
  4. Information on past proposals that have received grants from them.
Researchers need to have adequate knowledge of the funding agencies:- where they are: what they support; and the guidelines for proposal. Researchers also need to have an idea of past proposals that have been supported by these organizations.

In other words, researchers must make an effort to find out about these organizations. This can be achieved through the Internet if you feed in the name of organizations that you know can support your research. Or you may just spend some time surfing as it were the Internet through Google, requesting information on funders of research on so and so and so in Nigeria and/or Africa. This leads to the sites of funding agencies.

Fund seekers can identify an organization that can support his/her research interest. Of course, this approach may not give you an insight into government funding agencies that can support your research. Here personal contact with government officials in relevant ministries can be very helpful. You can also make enquires on how to garner support from tertiary education fund through your university.

It is vital to have adequate knowledge of the research agenda of prospective funders. Funders do not just support any kind of research. They support those that they consider are of priority to their organization. This means that they will not welcome any proposal no matter how good it is for its sake but one that fits into their research agenda.

It is therefore vital for those seeking funds for their pet ideas to be acquainted with the research agenda of funder and work within them.

Thirdly, funders often describe in brief how prospective seekers of research funds from them can apply for grants. Sometimes they have prescribed forms or format including sub-headings and well as the number of words that should be contained in each section of the form. Guidelines must be downloaded and adhered to by prospective seekers of funds.

Please note that these guidelines must be complied with by seekers of research grants. Funders receive hundreds or thousands of applications and would not waste the time with applicants who are not disciplined enough to adhere to their guidelines. They will simply not be short-listed the proposal that fails to comply with the guidelines.

Finally, some funders place successful proposals on their website. This can be very useful for applicants for funds from them. Take time to go through such proposals and use them as a template for theirs.

In this part of the grant guide series, we have equipped our-self with the necessary knowledge of what Grant and Grantsmanship are all about and how to access grants. To access grant successfully, there are a handful of tips you need to have at the back of your mind. These and many more are what we are going to be discussing in our next post in the grant guide series and it will focus on how to apply for the grant.

What is your thought? Feel free to make your contributions, observations or ask questions on this topic of Grant and Grantsmanship or any part of the Grant Guide Series using the comment form below and we will be more than happy to add to our database of knowledge.

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