Positioning for Grant Seeking Success

Will you and your project be competitive when applying for grants? 

Here are strategies to position yourself to succeed in grant seeking -- assessing readiness, getting to know potential funders, building relationships with program officers, and becoming a reviewer -- and  some practical advice on how to implement them.

Positioning Oneself to Succeed in Grantseeking, 4/22/19     Presentation Slides
Success in obtaining funding for research or scholarly activity is more likely if the investigator has laid a solid groundwork and can communicate ideas effectively to potential funders. This worksho presents advice for: targeting one’s efforts, framing research and scholarly goals as fundable ideas; articulating the human impact/ real-life applications of research/scholarship; the purposes of proposals; and gathering needed information. Assistance and resources available through the Research Development Office, including readiness assessment tools, also are discussed.

Email Distribution Lists
Sign up for the UNH Research Community email list as well as for other interest area and sponsor email lists for notices about funding, other opportunities, and important changes to procedures or policies.



UNH Research and Large Center Development Office Contacts


Mark Milutinovich
Phone: (603) 862-5338

Maria Emanuel
Phone: (603) 862-4377

Lynnette Hentges
Phone: (603) 862-2002

Michael Thompson
Phone: (603) 862-5255



PROJECT INVENTORY WORKSHEET - Individual:    xlsx   pdf


Learning about sponsors’ missions, priorities, and grant making processes will help you determine the best source of funding for your projects.

Communicating with Sponsors

Communication is a two-way process between the sponsor and the applicant.  See this overview for more.....

Become Familiar with Sponsor Types
Explore Sponsors’ Resources
  • Home page features
  • “About” web site section
  • Strategic plans
  • Research priorities
  • Budget requests
  • Annual reports
  • Serve as a reviewer
  • Webinars
  • Grants conferences and offerors’ days
  • Contact with staff at conferences and meetings
  • Advisory boards
Read Research Development and Grant Writing News

This monthly newsletter available to the UNH community provides timely advice on funding opportunities and how to compete successfully for research and education funding from federal agencies and from foundations. New issues, published mid-month, are emailed to the Research Office PI/PD List.

Current and back issues are available in Box here.

See What Sponsors Have Funded

A key to successful grant seeking is to build on-going relationships with Program Officers (also known as Program Area Priority Contacts, Program Contacts, National Program Leaders, Program Staff, Technical Points of Contact).

Relationships with the program officers can allow you to gain valuable decision-making information, both before and after you submit your proposal. By making this intellectual connection, you can draw on the program officer’s experience in your research area and in the sponsor’s priorities, preferences, and processes.

Successful awardees consistently and overwhelmingly attest to importance of this relationship building.

Role of the Program Officer (may vary somewhat with sponsor)
Before Submission
  • Serves as the “face” of the program
  • Cultivates new/the best ideas
  • Provides informal feedback re: project match with program
  • Reviews submitted LOIs for match with program
During Review
  • Manages the peer review process
  • Makes recommendations for funding based on peer reviews and other factors
  • Communicates outcomes of review to applicants
After Review
  • Provides feedback and consultation on declined proposals
  • Manages award administration
  • Reports performance, summaries, success stories and highlights to the sponsor
  • Provides program communication, including outreach and promotion


Ways to Contact Program Officers
  • Send an email to request a phone conversation or in-person visit; include a one-pager to introduce yourself and your work
        One-pager templates
  • Meet at professional meetings/conferences – serendipitous or scheduled
  • Attend sponsor-hosted grants conferences, proposer days, etc.
  • Watch for and attend program officer visits to UNH


Tips and Hints

Effective Practices for Contacting Program Officers at Federal Agencies

NIH PO Relationship Building

Building PO Relationships

Working with an NSF Program Officer (NSF Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, March 10, 2021)
What to Include in a One-pager (NSF Division of Molecular and Cellular Bioscience, February 12, 2020)

2021 DARPA Discover DSO Day Summary and Best Practices to Engage (Lewis-Burke Associates, June 30, 2021

Can We Talk-Contacting Program Officers --- Robert Porter

What to Say - and Not Say - to Program Officers --- Chronicle of Higher Education

Advice for Meeting Directors at NSF --- Richard Nader

One of the best ways to learn how to craft a competitive proposal is to serve as a reviewer. In addition to providing you with a chance to see a range of proposals (effective and not-so-effective), reviewing helps you become familiar with a particular grant program and/or sponsor, build your relationship with the program officer, learn how the sponsor’s review criteria are interpreted by other reviewers, and network with colleagues in your field. It is also a way to provide service to your discipline.

This article and the comments after it provide additional insights: Why I Became a Grant Reviewer.

Most federal agencies are always seeking to add to their rosters of potential reviewers to ensure a sufficient level of expertise and skill is present in the review panels without conflicts of interest.

Follow the links below to volunteer to be a peer review for these sponsors. If the sponsor/program you’re interested in isn’t listed, send an email to the program officer and ask!

Helpful hints

Before (and after) applying, be sure your website, c.v., and other online professional profiles are up-to-date and include relevant keywords about your research areas.

Before applying, get a unique personal identifier by signing up for an ORCID iD and authorizing ORCID to link up your publications.

Before applying, familiarize yourself with the sponsor’s mission and the program’s goals.

When applying, be sure to(1) highlight relevant background and experience, not just your scholarly credentials, e.g., work and volunteer experience, college education, working with at risk youth, grants you have written or managed, completed research studies or articles, etc., and (2) explain why you will be a good reviewer for that sponsor and program.


Sponsor Links
ACF -- Administration for Children and Families


ANA -- Administration for Native Americans


CB -- Children’s Bureau


FYSB -- Family and Youth Services Bureau

Basic Center Program

Family Violence Prevention and Services Program

Street Outreach Program

OCS -- Office of Community Services

Community Economic Development

ACL -- Administration for Community Living (formerly US ED/NIDRR)



E-mail a current résumé or curriculum vitae to the program manager who runs the program that most closely aligns with your expertise and indicate your interest in becoming a reviewer.  Find program descriptions and program manager contact information in a specific solicitation that fits your work or by reviewing the current Broad Agency Announcement and/or webpages for the service branch you're interested in:

DOE -- Dept. of Energy
Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy


DOJ - Dept. of Justice
BJA -- Bureau of Justice Assistance – Office of Justice Programs


NIJ – National Institute of Justice


OJJDP -- Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

E-mail a current résumé or curriculum vitae to OJPPeerReview@lmbps.com. Write "Peer Reviewer Candidate" in the subject line. Applicants should indicate their juvenile justice-related knowledge and experience, including: gangs, mentoring, girls' delinquency, children's exposure to violence, substance abuse, tribal juvenile justice, Internet crimes against children, and more.

DOL -- Dept. of Labor
Employment and Training Administration (ETA)


DOT -- Dept. of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration – TMIP Peer Review Program


ED -- Dept. of Education
Office of Postsecondary Education


EPA -- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Send an e-mail request including a brief CV to Benjamin Packard (packard.benjamin@epa.gov) of EPA’s Peer Review Division.

Fulbright Faculty Scholars


HRSA -- Health Resources and Services Administration


IMLS -- Institute for Museum and Library Services


NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration

If you don't see anything relevant on this list, then write to the program officer who runs the program that most closely aligns with your expertise. You can find contact information for all of them at the 
Program Officers List.

NEA -- National Endowment for the Arts

Send an email to panelistforms@arts.gov

NEH -- National Endowment for the Humanities


NIH -- National Institutes of Health (NIH)


Early Career Reviewer (ECR) Program


NSF -- National Science Foundation


SAMHSA -- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration


USDA -- Dept. of Agriculture
ARS -- Agricultural Research Service


NIFA -- National Institute of Food and Agriculture