Giving Compass’ Take:
• This guide from the Milken Institute provides insights for donors who want to begin to fund scientific research to make an impact.
• Do you or your organization have the capacity to go through this process? What support do you need?
• The Milken Institute has prepared reviews of research into several causes including neurodegenerative diseases.
The report is structured to provide points of entry into the pathway of funding scientific research primarily conducted in an academic or medical setting. Written for individual philanthropists and foundations who may be new to scientific research, this report will walk you through the process with a series of questions and key takeaways.
What are my philanthropic goals?
- Understand the stages of scientific research (from basic science to clinical trials) and how they align with your goals.
- Create a well-defined vision, mission, strategy, and objectives to guide your philanthropy, and also clearly and consistently communicate your interests to the scientific research community and relevant stakeholders.
What is the current state of the research and who are existing supporters of research?
- Identify potential research partners – from academics, nonprofits, and industry – in the disease research ecosystem to help determine the research gaps your philanthropy can address.
Given the state of research, what are the award mechanisms I can use to achieve my goals?
- Explore which mechanism is right for you – a university-directed gift or a sponsored research award.
- Tailor the award to focus on the specific research gaps, such as scientific unknowns, segments of the research workforce, or research infrastructure to enhance the capabilities of the entire research ecosystem.
How do I find research proposals?
- Craft a Request for Proposals (RFP) to communicate your strategic priorities to the wider research community and highlight the research questions and objectives you wish to address.
- Widely disseminate your RFP to maximize the number of proposals addressing your specific research question.
How do I judge the merit and potential of a submitted proposal?
- Consider both the quality and merit of proposals, as well as the ability of the researcher to successfully complete the work.
- Engage disease research experts as part of the review and selection process.
How do I write a research grant agreement?
- Upon identifying the proposal you wish to fund, craft a grant agreement, which is the legal document that outlines the terms, conditions, and goals of the grant.
- Effective communication with the grantee and research institution is critical to advancing your foundation’s stated mission and strategy.
How do I monitor a research award?
- Progress and final grant reports are key checkpoints of the funding process, and should capture the roadblocks and proposed solutions of the awarded project.
How do I measure success?
- Measuring the success of awarded grants involve both tangible and intangible impact metrics.
Given the changing stakeholder landscape and less predictable funding climate of our day, there is increasing need for smarter philanthropy in R&D. We believe this primer paves the way for funders and the research community to accomplish their respective goals faster and more effectively.