Identifying Potential Sponsors
The Office of Research Development can assist investigators in identifying particular sponsors who might have an interest in the proposed project. In determining sponsor interest, it is important to obtain as much information as possible in order to ascertain likely interest in a project. The information needed can usually be found on the sponsoring agency’s web site or printed materials available to the public. Pay particular attention to the following factors:
- the purpose of the program
- stated program priorities
- recipient eligibility requirements (including geographic restrictions)
- types of activities eligible for funding
- particular funding mechanism (grant, contract, etc.)
- budget restrictions and/or matching/cost-sharing requirements
- level of competition (total funds available and, where known, projected number of awards and range)
- availability of application forms or specific proposal guidelines
- application deadlines and review cycles
- giving history (types of organizations and activities funded in the past)
In most cases, it is appropriate and advisable to contact agency staff to verify the accuracy of the assessment of the materials and to ascertain the current status of the program such as funding levels, deadlines for applications, any change in program priorities, etc. Contact with some foundations might be restricted. Prior to contacting private funding sources, faculty should contact The Office of Research Development. They can assist the investigator with agency directories and other materials to locate the appropriate contact person. Contact with a potential sponsor can be made by a telephone conversation, a written inquiry describing the project, an office visit, or a combination of these approaches. If a letter of intent is submitted, it should be concise, usually no more than one or two pages, but should include all the information contained in the project outline.
It is important to note that sponsors are not committing to funding at this point. The information obtained should provide a better indication of the relevance of the project in relation to the sponsor’s current interests. The sponsor's reaction to a preliminary inquiry may allow for further assessment of whether it is worthwhile pursuing the development of a full proposal.