Time for Grant Writing: Tips for
Perhaps the single greatest barrier to writing an excellent funding proposal, aside from developing
a great idea, is lack of time. At a predominantly undergraduate institution, this barrier is
especially challenging, as teaching, research, service, mentoring, and other required activities
whittle away what time might be available for grant writing. Moreover, faculty members at
PUIs rarely have graduate assistants, secretarial help, or other support staff necessary to ease
their workload. Faculty members from many institutions have weighed in on this problem, and
they have offered a number of strategies for making time for grant writing.
Start early: as soon as you have an idea for your research, begin the proposal planning
Find out if your institution provides internal grants that will provide faculty release time
for grant writing/proposal development.
Review your overall schedule and determine what, if any, activities could be deleted or at
least cut down.
Break the grant writing into pieces: plan on 1-2 hour sessions spread over several weeks/
months rather than 1-2 solid days of grant writing.
Identify potential periods of free time each week and schedule these times for grant writing.
It helps to put this information on a paper or electronic calendar.
Working from your calendar, develop a time line for proposal development, including who
is responsible for completing each piece (in the case of collaborative proposals) and when
each component should be finished.
Escape the office: find a quiet place to think and write away from the hustle and bustle of
your office. You might consider the library, a quiet faculty lounge, or even an out-of-theway
conference room (just make sure to request the space first, if required).
Unless absolutely necessary, do not check e-mail, text messages, or voice mail during the
time you have scheduled to work on your proposal; turn off or silence your cell phone/
Consider piggy-backing your work on a larger proposal (perhaps with another university),
Look for funding opportunities with deadlines that allow you to work on your proposal
during the summer.
If all else fails, consider submitting the proposal during a later competition, then follow the
steps listed above.