Project grants are a major source of research funding in Finland and consist of basic funding from the government, external sources and university funds. Funding organisations grant millions of euros to researchers and research projects every year. Each of these organisations have specific criteria that are set out in each funding programme and specific call.
Writing successful project applications is quite a long process that requires a lot of time, diligence and patience. However, one of the biggest mistakes a project manager can make is not adhering to a funding organisation’s specified proposal requirements. As a result, the project proposal is not framed according to the terms set by the funder and ultimately decreases the success rate in securing funding for a project. Considerable effort is then not rewarded.
The manual is your coach
Reading the guidelines for funding while preparing a project application is important and here is why.
First, read the guidelines to understand the priorities and the application instructions. Then, do it again, with a highlighter in hand, keeping track of any questions you might have to ask. It is within this part of the process that you will determine whether the project idea is a strong fit with the overall objectives of the funding, while also gaining awareness for any boundaries or restrictions related to receiving funding. This includes reading the application format, submission process, required attachments, and other important requirements.
Second, knowing that reviewers have many project applications to evaluate and that time is always of essence, it is good to ease the reading and leave a positive impression by following the instructions. In the project evaluation context, the positive experience translates into a positive review. Clearly, a positive review increases the chances for funding by the funding agency.
Third, the task is easier if you read the instructions carefully and form a checklist. Remember to check for compliance with manual requirements concerning forms and supporting documents, budget, formatting, and submission. Also check technical requirements that are the easiest with which to comply, but are often overlooked by applicants. Slowing down and taking the time helps the understanding.
Fourth, the manual helps to focus on the essential evaluation criteria. A project application is not read like an ordinary document; it is scored according to different criteria. The higher the application scores for each criterion, the more likely the project will be funded.
Given the low success rates for project funding around the world, it is not worth cutting corners. Veering from the directions could land the proposal right in the reject pile without any further thought. This adds to the list of odds that are stacked against having that winning proposal. Therefore, put time into reading the manual and increase the chances of winning project funding.