Secret Tips for Grant Submissions

Small Point = Big Difference

Researchers who face the challenge of breaking into the ‘fundable area’ realize that decimal point differences in final scores can literally translate to hundreds of thousands of dollars difference in final funding. For example, at the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) table, a score of 4.3 could mean $750,000 compared with a score of 4.2 that provides no cash. Not a small point after all! Any ‘edge’ you can give your grant submission is worth the effort ten-fold.

Leveraging Media in your Favour

Studies by educational researchers have shown approximately 83% of human learning occurs visually. Studies also show that adding relevant visual media to text increases retention rates. Well-designed graphics, diagrams and figures can quickly tell the story at first glance. A customized `theoretical framework` or a chart to illustrate the biology that underpins key processes may help reviewers understand the fundamental concepts of your research more quickly and easily.

Find the Balance

When you stop and think about it, funding committees read hundreds of pages in grant proposals. On a purely visual level, these submissions equate to thousands of pages of black text on white paper. Adding diagrams that summarize your concepts not only add interest to your submission, but makes you stand out. Key words to remember are “make it meaningful”. Your choice of images should add depth of understanding to your content. There is an art to striking a balance between meaningful information, good design and providing enough information — but not so much information that the graphic becomes cluttered or confusing.

Dynamic Communication

The process of grant reviewing is not an empirical science. Considering the difference a fraction of a point can make for the success or failure of significant funding, a preliminary investment to work with professional media experts can greatly impact long-term gains. Your initial investment to have images professionally created is cost effective because those images generally have a high re-use value.  One single image used for a grant submission can often be re-purposed for lectures, conferences, stakeholder reports, websites, podcasts and/or on-line learning at a later date.

Final Consideration

After success in receiving the funding for your research, keep in mind that you will likely be required to present and publish your findings at the end of your project timeline. By factoring the cost of hiring an illustrator/designer into your grant proposal, your department will be covered for the provision of professional media production when the time arrives. Think creatively and utilize media to your best advantage!