Staff & Personnel
GRANTSMANSHIP AND ADMINISTRATION OFFICE COMMITTEE WELCOME SPEECH
It is with great pleasure that we welcome you to the grantsmanship unit of Edo State Polytechnic (Formerly Edo State Institute of Technology and Management), Usen. The committee is poised to administer all grants in the Polytechnic, to monitor and evaluate all grants (TETFUND, National and international funding agencies) attracted to the Polytechnic to ensure effective management of such funds. The committee is also meant to organize seminars and workshops on grantsmanship so as to equip all on the right thing to do to be able to access grants with ease. Dissemination of grants news to all staff and quarterly report to the Rector of the Polytechnic is pivotal. With all these, the Polytechnic will experience high standard in development which will naturally flow to the entire students, staff and the host community at large which is the vision of the committee.
Grantsmanship is the art of acquiring peer-reviewed research funding. Grants provide money and other resources to aid and assist organizations in funding and completing projects that benefit the public. They are non-repayable funds or products disbursed or gifted by one party, often agencies and government department, corporation, foundation or trust for specific types of studies and research each year, to a recipient, often (but not always) a non-profit organizations, corporations, educational institution, public agencies, businesses and individuals. To be a recipient of such grant, some form of “Grant Writing” often referred to as either a proposal or an application is required. A complex and all-encompassing proposal/application must be completed in order to be considered to receive the grant.
Most grants are made to fund a specific project and require some level of compliance and reporting. The grant writing process involves an applicant submitting a proposal to a potential funder, either on the applicant's own initiative or in response to a Request for Proposal from the funder. Other grants can be given to individuals, such as victims of natural disasters or individuals who seek to open a small business.
Developing a Project
Writing a successful grant proposal is a long process that usually begins with a conceived idea. This idea should be one that will add to the understanding and knowledge of science, medicine, social issues, or other areas that will benefit the common good of society. The writer must spend time considering and conceptualizing how he or she will complete the desired project. Designing a plan or flow chart to visualize the big plan can be quite helpful.
The conception of an idea is followed by the process of creating the grant proposal itself. Successful proposal writing involves the coordination of several activities including planning, searching for data and resources, writing and packaging a proposal, submitting the proposal to a funder, and follow-up.
Mission and Goals
Bear in mind that the reason funders give grant is because the organization can help them carry out their mission and not because the organization needs it. A project wishing to receive funding must have goals and objectives that align with the funding source mission. It is therefore important to clarify the purpose of the project by writing a concise mission statement. Write out the project goals to achieve the mission and then the objectives that are specific activities that will lead to the accomplishment of the goals.
The significance of projects seeking funding can be divided into four categories: theoretical, methodological, applied, or social. A theoretical project contributes to basic knowledge and helps refine current theories in a particular area or proposes a new theory. A methodological project involves the use of new and innovative methods or improvement of existing methods. A project with an applied significance provides answers to real-world problems. Projects that provide society with something useful and valuable have social significance. The significance of the proposed project will have to align with any of these.
Searching for grants
After the idea has been developed into a proposal with goals and objectives, the writer must find the right grant. Resources to assist in finding grants are abundant. In this part of the world however, emphasis is on online searches which really helps. In the U.S. for example, a person seeking grant funding can also contact the Foundation Centre Cooperating Collection which maintains a core collection of print and electronic directories of national grant funders. Depending on the type of project, there may be several possible sources for grants, and different funding agencies have different requirements and expectations. The writer’s proposal determines the type of funding agency to look out for. The proposal must tally with the mission of the funding agency to secure grant.
In some countries, grant funding agencies may have a program officer who helps organizations and individuals applying for a grant, by providing information regarding deadlines, budgetary requirements and preferences. The officer may be able to offer suggestions, criticism, and advice, or technical assistance including draft reviews. Liaise with such officers for help.
Collaborating with other professionals when working on a grant proposal is very advantageous as it combines ideas, resources, and abilities. This can no doubt create problems where the people concerned are not carefully selected. In order for collaboration to be a help rather than a hindrance to the process, it is important to be certain that the people working together have the same work habits to develop clarity and focus and identify gaps in thinking and planning. Qualified experts and interested individuals familiar with the organization and its projects will add quality to the committee, but the grant writer is the key person in the group. The writer will lead, inspire and coordinate the activities and responsibilities of the committee members.
Parts of the Proposal
All grant proposals contain several components which include an abstract, narrative, literature review and/or data, and methodology. Some grant funders require more information in a proposal. Many funding agencies now require that applicants include an evaluation plan that shows how the grant recipient will determine if the project is successful or not. Additional information that might be required is data analysis, time tables, letters of support, or plans for dissemination. All proposals must be tailored to suit the funding agencies requirements.
Like in every other thing, first impression is very important. It is the title page that creates the first impression for reviewers. Some funding may have specific requirements for a title page. Typically the title page will include the project title, the applicant’s name and the date.
This is the summary of the entire proposed project and therefore the most read part of the proposal. It addresses all the key elements such as the general purpose, specific goals, research design, methods of evaluation, contribution rationale, and the potential impact of the project. The abstract is usually between 200–300 words.
This is usually lengthy in that it is a more expressive and detailed explanation of the entire project. It contains the statement of need, and documents the credibility of the applicant's ability to successfully undertake the project and reach the anticipated goals within the stipulated time frame.
Here, the writer will have to show that he or she has done the necessary research on previous projects done in the same or similar area of the writer’s proposed work and now intends to bridge/fill the gap/lacuna noticed. The literature review will show through data that he or she has gathered that the grant will address the issues and indicate how his or her project is relevant to future research.
This really depends on the type of proposal being submitted. Research data that has already been conducted can help prove the relevance and need for new research. Historical data, statistical analysis graphs and figures, and long term projections can aid in justifying the agency's funding of the project.
This simply means ‘how’ the project is intended to be carried out. It is the plan or procedure that will be used to accomplish the aims of the project. The writer will have to explain the specific processes and activities that will be used to conduct research or address issues. Descriptive, historical, and some theoretical projects greatly depend on methodology just as experimental studies do. The writer will also describe the sample of participants for the project and tell how he or she will gain access to these participants. He or she will explain the procedures and processes from the participants’ perspective. Potential difficulties and limitations of the proposed procedure should also be discussed.
The method of data analysis is necessary here so as to show a clear plan of the way the collected data will be analyzed to enable the reviewer have an accurate picture of the entire project. This will prove to the reviewers that the methods being used are the most appropriate for the project and why other methods are inappropriate.
This is only applicable to some types of applications. This is different from data analysis in the methodology section. This form of analysis evaluates the stated plan of action, the indicators, and specific measurements for assessing the project's progress toward achievement of the anticipated goals. The evaluation plan should include a formative evaluation to inform the effectiveness of various activities of the project and a summative evaluation to assess the impact and significance of the project on the target audience. The evaluation plan will address the success of the results that can be attributed to the project.
Dissemination of information
This is the way the applicant plans to share the information gained or successful results of the project with the academic, scientific and social worlds. Dissemination is an extension beyond the work environment which makes an impact on the world at large.
A good proposal is expected to show how the project can be integrated with service and teaching in course-based and field-based studies. It should reflect that the dissemination efforts will be tailored to a target audience to help solve the very problems for which the proposal was meant to explore. Proposals that move the latest findings out of the experimental setting into the classroom, home, or community are more likely to be awarded funding than those that will take longer to show desired results. The most common sources for dissemination of information are websites, publications, presentations at conferences, training and education.
This entails the breakdown of project costs in a spreadsheet or a table detailed line items. The most important parts of the project should be allocated the most money. A project budget may include costs for personnel, equipment, rental of office or laboratory space, and research or conference trips. The budget is usually considered last in the proposal.
This only becomes necessary where additional or supplementary data or information to give more in-depth analysis or clarification is to be included. Some items included in an appendix are time tables, work plans, schedules, activities, methodologies, legal paperwork, and letters of support or endorsements from the host community.
Upon submission of the grant proposal, the decision making process may take a long time, sometimes running into several months. The outcome of the proposal is either positive or negative, that is granted or rejected. Where however the proposal is granted, the applicant needs to first write a letter of appreciation, acknowledging the award. The simplest way that applicants are notified that they have received the grant funding is by receiving a cover letter and check by mail. However, many funding agencies require much more. Some agencies require that a contract is agreed upon and returned with the appropriate signatures before the applicants can be awarded the grant money. A major part of most of these contracts is a stipulation that a pre-determined number of reports are submitted to the funding agency. If a contract is required, the grant writer should read it carefully and make notes of any requirements or reports that are required. If reports are requested, make sure that they are submitted on time. If a problem arises and the report will be late, the grant writer should be sure to send a written notification and call to make the funder aware of this.
The truth remains that it is never easy to accept rejection, but the reality is that only a few of the grant proposals will be funded each cycle. If the grant writer does not hear about the outcome of the grant reviews, it may be necessary to contact the funding agency. Not all agencies notify applicants who were not awarded a grant. Follow-up is important, and a positive phone call is an appropriate way of making contact. When talking to the program officer, the grant writer must avoid feeling angry or combative. The decisions made by the review board were not personal; they were based on how well the goals and expected outcomes of each proposal aligned with the mission of the funding agency. The writer should try to make the call positive and try to determine whether it would be advantageous to reapply subsequently. It is however essential for the applicant to know why the project was rejected as it may have very little to do with the quality of the proposal. It could just be that the funding agency was flooded with applications and then ran out of money and not because they didn’t like the proposal. Another cause of rejection could be a small point of confusion that the grant writer can easily resolve and resubmit in another cycle.
Some rejections are out rightly due to lack of merit in the quality of the grant application. It is however in the interest of the applicant to address the reviewers' comments; suggestions and criticism made about the proposal as objectively as possible. Where it is realized that the project goals is not in alignment with the funding agency’s mission, it is either reworked to align or find a new grant to apply for. However, if the applicant still feels that the goals correspond, he or she needs to determine why the proposal did not work, make necessary changes and resubmit at the next cycle. Looking at the reviewers’ comments and criticism through someone else's eyes (a colleague not involved in the project proposal) will help the applicant become more objective. A careful look at the entire proposal is recommended so as to be able to ascertain where things went wrong. Many grant proposals only become successful on the second or third submission. Never get discouraged.
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