Seeking money, asking to help

I sent this little note of unsolicited advice to my postdocs writing proposals and seeking other forms of support…

Some years ago, I went to a DOE program manager asking them to help fund a project that I thought was really important. The program manager said to me:

“I don’t want to hear about how I can help you. I want to hear about how you can help me.”

This really lit a light bulb up in my head, that was only made brighter when for a while we were distributing FICER funds to third parties.

Every NSF program, every philanthropist, everyone else distributing funds has objectives that they are trying to achieve. They will give you money only if you can convince them that you can help them achieve their objectives cost-effectively.

There is a tendency to approach people for money in the position of supplicant when it is more appropriate to approach people for money in the position of service provider.

Thinking of yourself as providing a service will color how you write your proposals or how you design your pitch. swatch-white_8