Identifying Funding Opportunities

If you have an idea and need funding, use this guide to learn about various types of funding options and ways to track down government or private sources.


Contact with Program Officers

For Federal Funding Opportunities:

  • Highly encouraged. Telephone or office visit is best, but email is fine as well. 

"In a study of 10,000 federal proposals, the only variable that was statistically significant in separating the funded and rejected proposals was pre-proposal contact with the funding source.  Chances for success increase an estimated threefold when contact with the funding source takes place before the proposal is written."  (Source: David G. Bauer, "How to Grants Manual," 4th edition, 1999; Chapter 10.)

  • Gives you an opportunity to introduce yourself, discuss your research plan with a potential funder, and gain invaluable feedback. 
  • Don’t be afraid to approach a program officer. 

For Non-Federal Funding Opportunities:

  • Contact the WPI Office of Institutional Advancement before approaching a foundation.
  • Some foundations limit contact or require contact through an Advancement staff person.
  • Institutional history can inform your approach and result in better outcomes.



  • Talk to your colleagues! Who is funding them? What are they funding?
  • Check "acknowledgments" section of published papers/articles.
  • Review funded awards & abstracts on agency sites. Eg: NSF Award Data, NIH REPORTER.  Some PI’s are willing to share proposals…if not, FOIA allows you to request a proposal. 
  • Collaborative research proposals.  Many new investigators “launch” their research careers by collaborating with established colleagues (internal or external to WPI).


Attend Conferences

Network! Discuss your research with potential funders.

Eg; NSF and NIH regional conferences provide a great opportunity to learn about emerging trends and priority areas.