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Re: Newsletters William Campbell 13 Nov 2002 09:42 EST

Eleanor and RESADMers--

I circulated a monthly paper newsletter for many years--grant opportunities, announcements of awards, a little homily from the director, and a grant-related cartoon.  It took about a day of staff time per month.  Every couple years I would survey the campus, asking (among other questions) do they read/use the newsletter?  The parts which were most read were (1) the cartoon and (2) announcements of awards.

A few years ago, I lost my staff and reduced the number of paper newsletters to two per semester.  No one noticed--or at least mentioned it to me.  At the same time, I started a webpage with short grant announcements I thought folks here might find interesting. (Check it out at  Whenever I learn of an opportunity which someone here might apply for, I add it to the page--3-5 items per week, more or less.  Whenever I enter an item, I cut and paste into a campus email and send it around to everyone on the faculty/staff list.  A year ago, due to the press of other business, I stopped sending paper at all.  No one noticed its demise, either.  Today, all our grant opportunity announcements go via email.  I send items which might interest many to all faculty and staff; items which would only interest one or a few go to individuals, departments, or colleges.

Results?  Very hard to say.  Our flow of proposals has increased a little, but I don't think that has any relation to the newsletter or emails.  I think the email announcements have stimulated more inquiries about the opportunities than the paper newsletter did, but I can't say that those inquiries have resulted in any proposals.  And there has been an unintended consequence as well: even though I include the URL for the funding agency in my email announcements, most faculty prefer to ask me if their project would fit the opportunity rather than checking out the agency's website.  Not a bad result at all, I welcome those conversations, but not one I expected.

When I was sending out paper, my major reason was not to alert folks to specific opportunities--I just wanted a way to make the Grants Office continuously visible as a helpful entity on campus.  The campus emails serve the same function, I think. Faculty/staff see messages from the Grants Office several times each week.  Each message concludes with an offer to assist with the generation of proposals.

I think you have to do something--many things, actually--to keep your office visible across campus.  Every institution has a percentage of folks who will apply for grants no matter what, a percentage who will never pursue a grant, and a percentage who would be more active with some encouragement.  Regular communication with the third group can provide that encouragement.  Like so much else in education, what you do--paper, email, dept visits, workshops, phone calls, lunches, and so on--matters less than that you do something.  So I guess I think your VP is on the right track.  Not that you asked.

Regards, Bill

Bill Campbell
Director, Grants & Research
University of Wisconsin-River Falls

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