How to Write a Grant Proposal
Step 1. Identifying the appropriate funding source and initial contact.
The first aspect of how to write a grant, and securing funding for your idea, is to identify public or private entities committed to sponsoring research in your specific field of expertise. For example, if you are an academic investigator interested in examining specific gene anomalies in lung cancer, private funding sources might include the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Association. Public funding, from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), could include the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (www.nhlbi.nih.gov) and the National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov). In addition to NIH grants, you could also investigate lung cancer research funding from the U.S. Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP, cdmrp.army.mil).
For many grant applications, to aid the review coordinator in determining the number of applications, inviting reviewers, etc., a letter-of-intent (LOI) is suggested. The LOI, specifically stating your commitment to prepare and submit a complete application, is generally due 30 days before the deadline for the full grant proposal. While an LOI is usually not required, its communication is a good idea, prior to grant preparation, and might even provide you feedback regarding the suitability of your proposed work for funding. For these initial steps, a grant-writing service might provide assistance at minimal cost. For nongovernmental funding entities, a grant-writing service can likewise support you in other means of contacting the appropriate administrator(s) (e.g., emails, telephone calls, formal letters, etc.), to evaluate the suitability of your proposed research, in accordance with the specific agency’s mission.
For nonacademic researchers or small business owners seeking funds for novel ideas, similar or different research funding opportunities exist. For example, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) research program (www.sbir.gov), currently budgeted at ~ $2.5 billion/year, encompasses all U.S. government branches (including NIH grants), to sponsor the development of new technologies by businesses with 100 or fewer employees. In parallel, the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR, also at www.sbir.gov) program encourages transfer of innovative research between nonprofit research institutions and small businesses. Finally, many NIH grants allow submission by both for-profit and nonprofit private entities.