AQF Views & Voices: Policy & Practice


Applying for an AQF Grant? Here are the Top 5 Things to Consider

Caitrin Mullan


Every January the Al Qasimi Foundation issues its call for Faculty, Doctoral, and Seed Grant applications. While always happy to offer individual guidance and feedback, the grant awards committee has identified the top five things potential grantees should consider as they prepare their submissions. This list reflects applicants’ most frequently asked questions and the places proposals often lose points during review. Although the specifics are particular to the Al Qasimi Foundation’s grants, the general advice on how to approach tailoring proposals would hold true for many funders.

1. Does your proposal support the Foundation’s mission and the objectives of the grant?

Priority is given to grants that present a direct link between the purpose of their research or project and the Foundation’s mission of supporting the economic, social, and cultural development of Ras Al Khaimah and the United Arab Emirates.

The Foundation conducts and promotes high-quality research and programming to inform policy decisions and increase capacity in the region. It welcomes proposals from scholars and practitioners in a wide range of disciplines and professional fields that address issues related to our priority areas of education, arts and culture, health and well-being, and community development.

Each grant has specific objectives, which are outlined on our website. While we understand and support our grantees’ research autonomy, to receive funding from the Foundation it is important to speak to our priorities as both a funder and research institution. Proposals that include a social science component tend to be more successful, as our ultimate goal is to influence policy. To review the Foundation’s mission, vision and values click here.

2. What is the impact of your proposal?

Have you clearly stated the purpose, objectives, and deliverables of your proposed research or project? What issue will it address and how will it benefit the Foundation’s stakeholders and community?

The Foundation’s grants are competitive, and we regularly receive more strong applications than we are able to award. It is therefore important to build a case for why your proposal should receive funding. Make sure to clearly explain the link between the issue, how your proposal will seek to address it, how this will benefit our stakeholders, and how it could impact policy decisions.

If you are having a hard time thinking of ways your project could impact policy then you may need to rethink parts of your proposal. This is a common problem for many of the more lab-based research proposals we receive. They often include recommendations for possible next steps to their research, or implementation of their methods, but have a harder time connecting their research to policy outcomes. This is one reason the Foundation tends to fund social science-based proposals.

3. Does your proposal adhere to our grant policies and procedures?

Each grant has its own eligibility criteria and inclusions, and it’s important to make sure your proposal adheres to them. Our grant awards are modest compared to funding opportunities offered through other local and international entities. In order to maximize the strategic impact of our funding, the following items are not eligible for award coverage:

  • University overhead expenses or other indirect cost recoveries
  • Salaries, stipends, gifts, or other reimbursements for faculty or researcher time
  • University tuition or fees (Doctoral Grants)
  • Business class air tickets
  • Journal processing fees

If you have any questions about what is, or is not included, in our grant awards, check out the Al Qasimi Foundation Grant Policies and Procedures Manual.

4. Have you tailored your proposal to include our deliverables?

At minimum, all of our grantees are required to:

  • Write one to two policy or working papers
  • Write at least one blog entry about their work or interests
  • Be the focus of one to two multimedia projects
  • Give a majlis presentation to the Ras Al Khaimah community
  • Be an active partner in the dissemination of their work across multiple platforms

Some grants or projects may have other deliverables, such as submitting regular update reports, and we expect grantees to accommodate requests from the grant management team as they arise.

5. How competitive is your proposal?

While each grant maker will have different criteria on which they judge the competitiveness of proposals, it is important to directly speak to the values of the funder. Based on the Foundation’s mission, vision, and values, proposals are reviewed under criteria that fall into five categories:

  • Scholarly or professional record
  • Proposal relevance and significance to Foundation and Ras Al Khaimah
  • Research or project practicality
  • Budget and resource needs
  • Partnerships and potential to develop local capacities

The 2020 grant submission deadline is March 1st. If you have any questions or concerns, please email or visit the grants page on our website:

Caitrin Mullan is the Arts & Engagement Director at the Al Qasimi Foundation. This blog originally appeared in our January 2018 Newsletter as a featured article.