Best practices in grant writing at small colleges

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Chapman, Brent S.
Armstrong, Joseph L.
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Thesis (D. Ed.)
Department of Educational Studies
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This study surveyed grant writers at independent small colleges in Indiana and bordering states to discover their typical processes, personnel management, and whether these colleges encouraged effective grantsmanship. Data were analyzed with descriptive statistics reported as percentages, frequencies, and means.Conclusions include the following:Over five-sixths of respondents had additional duties. The vast majority said grant writing time varies daily due to these other tasks. As a median, writers with dual or more duties devoted 33% of their time to grant writing.Over three-fourths were not required to attend introductory training. While most pursued training classes, superiors seemed to be nonchalant about their professional development. Self motivated study, grant writing associations, and mentors were major factors for growth in grant writing skills.Around 90% of presidents and 85% of advancement vice presidents met grantors. Just over half of other superiors and a plurality of other senior advancement personnel cultivated grantors.Over three-fourths helped faculty with proposals. This informal quality control involved editing, writing, and teaching faculty how to write proposals. Just over half the colleges used formal quality control. About two-thirds have internal permission systems to prevent embarrassments, so one-third cannot prevent disasters or track proposal success, failure, or origin. Colleges seemed complacent about liability since less than half required approval from an Institutional Review Board for proposals with human subjects.About half felt their colleges succeeded with grants. Actual results were decidedly mixed. Deciding factors were income, faculty engagement, and external and internal relationships. Many colleges seemed to lack easily accessible grant records. Having dual or more duties could hinder but did not prevent success.Over two-thirds contacted donors. About half who cultivated increased success rates or gained profitable insights. Most of the others tacitly implied increased success. The top three overall grant winners all cultivated. Respondents saw cultivating as good, but viewed skillful writing as crucial.Other attributes such as religious affiliation, enrollment, minority percentages, etc. seemed not to affect success.Results cannot be completely generalized, but descriptive data and inferred conclusions should assist all small-college grant writers.