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The Four “Ins”: Building a Strong Grantseeking Culture on Campus

Use these insights to nurture a campus grantseeking culture and propel your institution toward higher education grant funding success.

One of the key determinants of institutional grantseeking success is cultivating a strong organizational culture that supports both institutional infrastructure and individual expertise. While every college or university may experience different grantseeking pain points — whether due to limited resources, experience, or strategy — the common denominator of campuses with higher grant success rates is widespread buy-in and support for grant funding. There is power in building a culture that’s inspired, integrated, incentivized, and informed about grants. Here’s how to tap into what we call the four “ins” of a positive grantseeking culture.

Get the latest insights on how institutions are overcoming budget and enrollment hurdles in our 2024 Trends in Higher Education report.

Why a Strong Grantseeking Culture is Essential for Grant Success

Across the higher education landscape, institutions are looking to build their grants portfolios — to conduct cutting-edge research, initiate new initiatives or programs, improve their reputations, or access alternative streams of revenue. Too often, however, administrators try to build institutional grant portfolios without working to improve the institutional grantseeking culture or build buy-in for grant funding first.

In an institution with a strong grantseeking culture, faculty and staff are motivated to seek grants, understand how the process works, and know how to access resources for support. When this happens, the quality of grant proposals increases and submissions become more competitive. Without a strong grantseeking culture, fear, confusion, and demotivation reign: grantseeking processes are difficult and often interrupted, submitted grants are undeveloped, and the institution’s grant portfolio stagnates.

Leveraging the Four ‘Ins’ to Build a Strong Grantseeking Culture


Your faculty and staff need to feel optimistic about grants. Use promotional communication strategies to help potential grantseekers understand the power of grants. After all, just one successful grant can change the lives of hundreds. Help inspire internal teams with the following practices:

  • Spotlight grant-funded projects prominently in campus communications
  • Publicly recognize grant efforts and successes
  • Develop creative approaches to show what grants can do for faculty and staff
  • Promote cross-departmental conversations about grants and how they can shape the future of your institution

Grants should be an inextricable part of your institutional operations rather than an additional burden or option. Ensure all the necessary systems are in place to support grantseeking on an institutional level using these tips:

  • Build grantseeking into the organizational framework of your institution by aligning grantseeking goals with campus strategic planning and departmental goal-setting efforts
  • Promote an understanding across all departments that grantseeking activities are part of individuals’ work and the work of the institution
  • Provide adequate campus resources, facilities, and support to grantseekers

Learn how to develop your faculty’s grantwriting expertise with our guide, 4 Ways to Support Faculty-Led Higher Education Grants.


Potential grantseekers need to know that their hard work is worth it. Concrete incentives can be especially useful early in the process of building a grantseeking culture when you need to break old habits and establish new ones. Consider the following ideas to motivate and sustain commitment from all grantseeking parties:

  • Provide course-release time for faculty to engage in grantseeking, proposal writing, and post-award implementation to alleviate workload concerns
  • Ensure that indirect costs are designated in departmental and school budgets
  • Think creatively about what the key barriers are at your institution, and what financial and non-financial incentives will help your grantseekers move beyond them

Informed grantseekers are effective grantseekers. Everyone involved in the process needs to understand how the process works, how to access the resources they need, and how to build their skills for grantseeking success. Help grow your institution’s grantseeking knowledge with these best practices:

  • Provide grantseekers with access to high-quality resources to assist their prospecting, proposal development, draft editing, and grant management work, including consultation from both internal and external professional experts
  • Offer grant training opportunities at all levels, from novice grantseekers to seasoned grant-funded researchers
  • Conduct a grants capability assessment survey to gather feedback from faculty and staff about their grantseeking readiness

Learn how to facilitate collaborative grant proposals with our pre-recorded webinar, Engaging Collaborators to Enhance Your Proposal.​

Many higher education institutions are facing increased pressure to grow their grant portfolios because grants can generate funding pipelines for projects, programs, initiatives, or research that might otherwise not be possible. To overcome grant-funding barriers and develop more competitive proposals, institutions must first develop a robust campus grantseeking culture. Fostering widespread internal support and resources for grants will undoubtedly lead to greater grant-funding success, which, in turn, positively impacts campus morale, collaboration, and innovation across the entire institution.

5 Strategies to Boost Grant Funding

Grants offer vital institutional support in challenging times. Learn how to strengthen your campus grantseeking efforts with these tips.
Achieve more institutional grant funding success with our guide for higher education leaders
Learn how to foster a strong grantseeking culture at your institution.

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