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This advice comes from Sara Starr, Director of Funding & Research Development at The Ohio State University Office of Research.

Strategies that will help you find potential sponsors include:

  • Develop a list of words and phrases that describe what you need funding to do. A good way to do this is to describe what you are doing to someone, asking them to write down the words and phrases they hear you say. You'll be surprised at how many words show up on that list. This exercise often allows you to identify relationships to your project that you hadn't thought about. 
  • Do not limit your search to a specific type of funding. For example, if you are seeking dissertation money look at more than those opportunities coded "dissertation." An opportunity that is for "research" may allow you find the money you need for time to write and the money that you need to do any research needed to support your dissertation. 
  • Look beyond those opportunities that specifically say they are for graduate students. You may find the perfect funding announcement that requires a faculty member to be the PI. Talk to faculty in your discipline to see if you can find someone to "front" your proposal. That is to say the faculty is listed as the PI and you write the proposal and do the work. This is a win-win situation for both of you. 
  • Talk to potential sponsors. This is important for the process of finding a sponsor that funds your need but it has other benefits as well. The Sponsor's program officer can: 
  • Confirm that your project is fundable by them (or can tell you that is not fundable thereby keeping you from wasting your time writing a proposal to them).
  • Clarify what the guidelines mean.
  • Perhaps give you hints of how to write a winning proposal.
  • Keep you in mind as other funding opportunities are identified.


About the author: Sarah holds a B.S. in Library Science from Virginia Wesleyan University, and currently acts as Director of Funding & Research Development at The Ohio State University Office of Research.