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EMU Research

Types of Sponsors

There are several types of granting agencies, but approximately 60% of all funding comes from the federal government.  According to the Association of American Universities, in 2009 the federal government supported approximately $33 Billion of the universities' total research and development spending.  Other major sources of sponsored support come from private foundations, as well as private industry through sponsored research agreements.  



  • Federal, state, and local governments
  • Foundations
  • Professional associations
  • Civic organizations


Federal, State, and Local Government Agencies

Government agency guidelines are specific, and their deadlines are exact and nonnegotiable. Lead times vary in length, and the agencies may request concept papers, preliminary proposals, or full proposals. It may be helpful for you to contact the program staff of the particular government agency for advice about guidelines and about the relevance of your proposed idea to the sponsor's interests, in advance to preparing a proposal.



Foundations are of five types:

  • National Foundations, like the Mott Foundation, have large assets and well-defined goals for using their money. They seek proposals with regional or national impact and receive many applications annually.
  • Corporate Foundations, of which Dow Corning is an example, sponsor projects in line with their corporate interests and usually also intend their funding to have a public-relations impact. Since corporate foundation assets are smaller than those of the national foundations, more grant limitations may apply.
  • Community Foundations are really public charities. Typically, community foundation grants are smaller and are limited to efforts serving the local region. An example is the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, which supports innovative programs and projects of various sorts within the city's service area and surrounding communities.
  • Family Foundations, for example, the Hartwick Foundation, support endeavors that reflect areas of current family interest or the particular founding person's interests. Family foundation assets normally are limited, guidelines are few, fewer grants are awarded annually, and the geographic area is restricted.
  • Special Interest Foundations support single fields. The Thompson Foundation, for instance, serves only the frail elderly. Special interest foundations may also specify a geographic limitation, and approach is usually by letter of inquiry.
  • Major corporations, like General Motors and BASF, may support projects through avenues independent of their foundations. These efforts also aim to enhance public relations as well as benefit the public. The funding interests are typically diverse, and guidelines and restrictions are few.  Major corporations add support research through sponsored research agreements.  


Other Non-Profit Organizations

While these pots of money are generally modest, it is important to keep the following sponsors in mind as they may provide important seed funds, or funds for important work in the community.

Professional Associations
Professional organizations, like those in the sciences, sometimes sponsor specific projects for which they solicit applications from their members. Notices appear in professional journals and newsletters. Although the awards may be small, there are advantages to this kind of support. The results of the research are disseminated throughout the discipline, gain wide attention, and, as a result, can lay the groundwork for larger investigations through other, more substantial support.

Civic Organizations
Occasionally such civic groups as the Lions offer awards for particular projects. These may be publicized through journals, the media, and letters to people the organization feels might participate or are in positions to locate investigators with the desired expertise. Sometimes letters seeking applicants are sent to agencies like ORDA. As these opportunities become available, the ORDA office publishes notices about them.


Elevating Communities, Inspiring Generations

EMU Research, 200 Boone Phone: 734.487.3090 mail [email protected]