Grant Seeker's Guide: Article

Douglas B Hanson (dhanson@WORLD.STD.COM)
Wed, 6 Jul 1994 08:01:48 -0400

played by research in the process of identifying potential
sponsors. No task is more critical to winning grants than that
of keeping abreast of funding trends in government agencies,
foundations and corporations. Matching the project with the most
appropriate sponsors is the key element to success in

Sponsor research also is the most labor-intensive aspect of
fund raising. It requires painstaking hours spent with primary
and secondary source materials. In a typical search, one might
consult the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA), The
Foundation Directory, The Foundation 1000, specialized
directories like those in the Research Grant Guides series,
specific annual reports,and 990's (the IRS tax returns filed by
foundations) . Governemnt directories become quickly dated, and
keeping them current can be expensive. Trips to the library and
Foundation Center satellites involve inefficient use of staff
time, a resource not found in abundance among most not-for-profit

While printed directories and reports are still the mainstay
of grant-related resource materials, grant seekers increasingly
are supplementing their storehouse of research tools with
electronic data. Computer based sponsor research delegates the
most tedious tasks to the machine. An initial review of sources
conducted manually with the CFDA and The Foundation Directory,
for example, can take several hours. The computer does it in

The computer helps eliminate the dozens, sometimes hundreds,
of inappropriate entries typical of the beginning stages of a
manual search. Research Grant Guides, for example, produced this
Directory with computer assistance. The entries all are focused
on grants for computer and technological equipment. The
publisher has done the work of combing through many primary
sources directories published by the government and Foundation

A cautionary note is in order before describing the types
and availability of electronic resources. Computer searching
dramatically decreases the time needed to identify potential
sponsors. Grant seekers, however, should be especially alert to
the seductive power of the computer. Under the best
circumstances, electronic data resources will serve to reduce or
eliminate the laborious job of going through directory indices to
develop an initial list of potential sources. Although many
hours can be saved this way, the computer performs only the first
step. It supplements, but is not a substitute for the thorough
research strategies characteristic of successful grant seekers.
Such strategies involve extensive follow-up activities directed
toward developing comprehensive profiles of only the most
promising sources.

The computer contributes by producing a much shorter initial
list than a manual search, eliminating the need to review and
discard all the items that appear to be relevant at first glance,
but eventually prove inappropriate. It thereby frees valuable
time to perform the more productive task of analyzing in depth
the short list of sponsors likely to result in a grant. Many of
the most powerful electronic research tools are found on the

What is the Internet?

The Internet is a world-wide network of computer networks
that has the potential for linking every computer in the world.
All that's required by an individual or organization is a
communications device, a telephone line and access through an
Internet service provider.

The forerunner to the Internet was a 1969 project of the
United States Defense Department. Its potential was expanded by
development of another network created by the National Science
Foundation in the 1980's.1 Originally, Internet users were
limited to academics and military researchers who needed a means
for instantaneous transmission of text files and other data.

Access to and use of the Internet has been growing
geometrically during the past few years. Many university faculty
and students, as well as government agencies, corporations and
not-for-profit organizations already have access. In the
immediate future, it will continue to grow dramatically and
should be available to anyone with a computer.

Electronic Mail - An Internet Essential

One of the most basic Internet functions is electronic mail
(e-mail). E-mail permits an Internet user to communicate with
any individual or organization for whom an e-mail address is
known. E-mail communication is global and speedy. Messages can
be sent around the world in a matter of seconds (sometimes it
takes much longer because of heavy traffic).

Using a computer for electronic mail communications is more
efficient than memo or letter writing. One need only type a
message and give the "send" command. It eliminates retyping,
paper handling and mailing. The speed of transmission ensures a
quick reply.

Internet addresses don't look like regular postal addresses.
An internet address identifies the individual account holder and
the "node" where that account will be found. Nodes refer to
mainframe computers that are connected to the Internet and serve
many individual users. My e-mail address, for example, is, where "agrbb" identifies Andrew Grant. My
personal identifier is separated from the organization address
with the "@" symbol. CUNYVM is the central computer with an
Internet connection serving the City University of New York
(CUNY), and edu identifies it as an educational institution. Any
reader with Internet access could send me a message at that
address to comment on this article or ask me a question. Many of
my colleagues and I use e-mail as our primary communications
method when "corresponding" with government agencies with
questions and requests for information about grant programs.
Several of those agencies distribute grants information by means
of electronic newsletters or bulletins to e-mail subscribers over
the Internet.

Access is supported by the University or other organization
that maintains the Internet server. Use is free for individuals
associated with such organizations. Recently, commercial
communications networks have opened gateways to the Internet for
e-mail. Compuserve and America Online subscribers can send and
receive mail to and from any Internet address. My e-mail address
on Compuserve is The "com"
identifies Compuserve as a commercial organization.

Electronic mail is only one of the services available
through Internet. Grant-related materials abound for anyone who
knows where to look. Most of these materials are free.
Mechanisms needed to access such grant-related information, as
well as thousands of other items are explained in the sections
following. Some of the commercial networks already have plans to
expand their gateways beyond e-mail. America Online is in the
process of implementing a multi-step plan to make full Internet
access available to its subscribers, and Delphi already offers
such access.

The Real Power of Internet:
Remote Accessand File Transfer

The ability to obtain, process and act upon extensive
amounts of information is a distinguishing requirement for
successful grant seeking. Until recently, the information we
needed to identify sources and make judgements about submitting
proposals was available only in the form of printed material.
A college seeking a government grant for updating its
computer laboratory equipment, for example, previously would
search the CFDA or Federal Register to determine which agency
made grants in support of such a program. They would discover
several such programs under the National Science Foundation
(NSF). They would then need to find the name of the appropriate
program office and write or call for the program guidelines. A
week or two might go by until the documents arrived by regular
postal service delivery ("snail mail" to Internet aficionados).

That same process could be reduced to less than an hour
using Internet resources. The grant seeker would conduct a CFDA
or Federal Register search on the Internet to find the NSF
references. Then he or she would log onto the NSF computer to
determine the correct file name to request and perform a file
transfer procedure to bring the program guidelines into the
computer in his or her office. Instead of a week to ten days in
the mail, the file will arrive in a few seconds.

The two procedures described above are known, respectively,
as telnet and ftp. Telnet allows a user to transfer to any other
computer connected to the Internet. Such remote login is
perfectly acceptable and should not be confused with illegal
access to someone else's system. A few items of information are
needed before telneting to another site.

First is the Internet address of the other computer. In the
example above, the user would telnet to "". STIS is
the document identification and retrieval system at NSF. It is
designed to facilitate searching through more than 40,000
documents stored in the NSF computer. It provides a full range
of search tools, including keyword strings and topics. Once in
the system, the grant seeker from our example would select the
keyword screen and enter "computer equipment" as the search
parameter. The system would display a list of document titles,
date of issue and document number meeting the search criteria.

Knowing the document numbers of the items of interest, the
user would log off the system and return to perform a file
transfer protocol (ftp) to obtain the documents. Once inside the
ftp utility at, he or she would issue a "get"
command to request files. The transfer takes only a few seconds.
After the files are brought to the user's home node, the last
step is to download the files, bringing them into a file in the
PC (personal computer) in the office. They can be printed,
edited in a word processor or sent to others at the college via

More and more government agencies are developing similar
systems. Many universities permit public access to parts of
their databases, including library catalogs. The philosophy of
the Internet is to support the exchange of as much data as is
feasible. Of course, many of the files in agency and university
computers are not meant to be available via telnet. These are
protected by security systems and are not accessible without an
account and password.

Navigating the Internet

The preceding discussion raises several questions about
using the Internet effectively. What are the public access
sites? How does one find out about them? What are their
addresses? What information is available through public access?
What additional information is restricted and available only
through paid subscription? These are frequently asked questions
for new users.

The Internet is an unmanaged system. There is no central
administration that oversees and supervises activities. Rather,
each organizational node is responsible for providing services to
its own community. Telnet and ftp, for example, are software
programs that can be loaded into mainframe computers. Each node
makes the decision to provide them, as resources permit.

With the rapid growth experienced by the Internet, new
public access sites and services are added all the time. One of
the first questions people ask is, "Where can I get a directory
of services and e-mail addresses?" No such directory exists. To
add to the level of inconsistency, the command structure for
performing basic functions may vary from node to node. Internet
commands are based on the UNIX operating system, which has a
reputation for being user unfriendly. Navigating the Internet
requires an initial commitment of time to explore resources in
order to locate those of interest.

One of the most helpful aids to navigation is Gopher, an
Internet program available at many nodes. Gopher is a program
that presents the user with a menu of public access services,
worldwide. Gopher allows the user to browse lists of services
without needing to know the telnet address. When one of these
services is selected, Gopher works behind the scenes to telnet
there. Once in the remote system, the user is presented with a
list of the available services to choose from. Gopher menus are
many layers deep. Each menu leads to another and another and so
on, until the specific item is reached.

The United States Department of Education, for example, has
developed a new Gopher. To get to it, a user would issue the
gopher command in the home system and be presented with a list of
choices, internal and external to the institution. University
systems include much information about schedules, events, faculty
directories and other items relevant to on-campus activities.

To get to the Education Department Gopher, we would select
the item, "other Gophers around the world". That would bring up
a list from which we would select North America and then USA.
>From the next list we would select the "general" list and scroll
through it until we found US Department of Education. The items
are listed alphabetically; US is near the end of the list. Once
selected, the US Department of Education screen displays a list
of choices. Among them is information about programs and
deadlines, general information, personnel name and address index
and an online CFDA. Searching the CFDA electronically with
keywords is much more efficient than using the print version.
Gopher also provides the means to have any selected document
mailed back to the user through e-mail.

Included in the Gopher under the USA, General menu are the
NSF STIS system, the National Institutes of Health gopher, many
electronic publications, various other government agencies and
many university systems. Much valuable information related to
grants is available this way, and it is free. Exploring
"gopherspace" can be a journey of many enjoyable hours, with
detours along the way to check out any sites that look
interesting. Many Gopher systems permit the user to insert
bookmarks, making it easy to return to favorite sites. In the
absence of a bookmark, users should have a note pad handy to jot
down the location of the sites they wish to frequent again.

How to Get Connected

Most universities, many government agencies and some large
not-for-profit organizations already provide Internet access to
their staff and clientele. The first step in getting connected
is to find out if the organization is already a node. If it is,
there will be procedures for obtaining access and guidance on how
to use the system. Most smaller, budget conscious
not-for-profits will not have such access; it is not cost
effective. Readers in this category need to explore some

It is common for university systems to provide off site
access to computer accounts. Not-for-profit managers should
survey staff and volunteers to determine if any of them have
Internet access through another affiliation, as a graduate
student, for example. In order to be ready to log on to the
Internet, individuals and small organizations need four things.
These are a computer of any age, make, or speed; a modem;
communications software and a phone line.

If no access already exists, not-for-profit managers should
evaluate the services available through commercial providers.
The level of service and the fees vary from company to company.
Some offer only e-mail, while others provide full telnet, ftp,
gopher and other Internet features. As development continues,
competition will force all commercial providers to offer a full
set of services at realistic prices. Information about the
Internet seems to be growing as rapidly as the Internet itself.
It is now relatively easy to get a quick orientation and enough
information to make a decision about selecting an access

Where to Go for Information

As the Internet grows, there is more awareness of it and
interest in its services. A sure sign of such heightened
awareness is the regularity with which articles about the
Internet are appearing in the popular press. During 1993, major
newspapers ran articles and series describing the Internet and
its impact on communications and information exchange. Until
recently, such open discussion was limited to the academic and
research communities. Among the issues of concern is the
capability of the Internet to remain a service free to users.
There is a growing movement pressing for commercialization to
accommodate the exploding growth. This debate will deepen as
more individual users seek access.

Most large bookstores carry numerous titles about the
Internet in their computer sections. A good introduction is The
Internet Companion: A Beginner's Guide to Global Networking, by
Tracy LaQuey with Jeanne C. Ryer, published in 1993 by Addison
Wesley. Another, which has already become a classic, is The
Whole Internet: User's Guide and Catalog by Ed Krol, published
in 1992 by O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. These are just two among

Books about the Internet generally provide some background
history and a guide to tools like telnet, ftp, and gopher. They
also describe other tools like Archie, Veronica, Wide Area
Information Servers (WAIS) and Whois. These are used to search
the Internet to find out where files about various topics can be
found. Many of the books also contain some directory information
about different telnet, ftp and gopher sites. Krol's book, for
example, includes an alphabetical resource catalog of Internet
sites and the type of information they contain.

Of course, the most important bit of information is where to
find a provider. Commercial companies provide access on a fee
basis to individuals and organizations with no affiliation to an
existing node. Subscribers to such services are given a phone
number and security password that will connect them to Internet
service. As noted above, services and fees vary. Long distance
charges are another consideration. Some services provide access
through toll-free numbers, but most do not. Users in remote
locations may incur high long distance bills if there is no
service provider in the local calling area.

The Meckler Company publishes a volume entitled Internet
Access Providers: An International Resource Directory, by Greg R.
Notess. Meckler also publishes "Internet World", a magazine
useful for anybody already on the Internet or anyone in the
process of getting connected. Meckler is located in Westport,
Connecticut and can be reached at 1-800-MECKLER (632-5537) or and Again, anyone
browsing a bookstore computer section or magazine rack will find
these and many other resources. Which will prove most
interesting and helpful depends almost entirely on individual

More Information for Grant Seekers

Internet provides many opportunities for grant seekers
looking for information about current opportunities. It can take
a bit of searching to discover useful telnet and gopher sites.
As noted above, some services are available only through
subscription. Here are tips for finding two of these. I should
note that these are services I use and have found to be among the
best available. Although I've decided on these on the basis of
some comparison shopping, much of what goes into a decision on
subscribing is personal preference of the products and the level
of service provided by the companies. Their inclusion here
shouldn't be read as the result of an objective evaluation of
everything available. With that disclaimer, here is information
about two helpful funding source data services.

Counterpoint Publishing of Cambridge, Massachusetts provides
the Federal Register and Commerce Business Daily in searchable
form on the Internet. I subscribe to the CD-ROM version of the
Register. Counterpoint has a demonstration of their products
available through gopher or by telneting to
(login is fedreg, password is register). They allow public
access searches of the Register by date of issue or agency. Much
useful information is available this way for free. Searching
gives the user the Table of Contents for any issue of the
Register, which may be enough information for some purposes. It
also allows reading the first five lines of any article, and then
tells the user about subscription rates. The demo is useful, and
gives Counterpoint an excellent marketing device. They can be
reached at 1-800-998-4515.

InfoEd in Albany, New York produces the Sponsored Projects
Information Network (SPIN). SPIN is a database of government,
foundation and some corporate sponsors. It is available by
subscription either through dial-up, telnet or microfloppy disks.
SPIN provides comprehensive search strategies using keyword,
sponsor names and several other methods. SPIN is available only
to subscribers via telnet. There is no online demo yet. They
can be reached at 1-800-727-6427 or

A great way to get a taste of the Internet is by taking
advantage of the five free hours advertised (at press time) by
Delphi, an Internet provider offering full access to e-mail,
telnet, ftp and gopher. It's an excellent marketing strategy
for the company and probably the best way for new users to try
out the Internet. Delphi advertises in all the computer
magazines. Reach them at 1-800-695-4005 or To
sign up for the demo, dial 1-800-365-4636 by modem, press return
once or twice and enter JOINDELPHI at username and NTW41 at

Anyone about to connect to the Internet will experience an
adventure as well as a wide range of professional services. For
grant seekers, there will be much assistance in locating
sponsors. Consider all the other informative and enjoyable
Internet activities a bonus.
1 1 Tracy LaQauey and Jeanne C. Ryer, The Internet Companion,
Addison-Wesley (1992), pp. 3-6.

Douglas B. Hanson, Ph.D.
Bioengineering Department
Forsyth Dental Center
140 Fenway
Boston, MA 02115