Top 13 resources to help you secure research funds easily

Posted on April 30, 2015

Involvement in research presents the opportunity to pursue and investigate ideas about which you are passionate, and which may provide solutions to the challenges and problems facing us in the 21st century.

However, before you can embark on your research, you will need money. Securing research funds can be time-consuming, laborious and at times somewhat complicated, but finding funds and the right organisation to support your research is the only way to get started.

Various funding opportunities are available to prospective researchers, but you have to explore them and follow the required procedures to secure the funds. The Department of Research and Innovation Support (DRIS) makes a number of resources available on to guide you through this laborious process by assisting you from the initial step of sourcing funding to signing the grant agreement.

The following are the top resources available to UP researchers:


1. The Research Africa funding database

Research Africa posts funding opportunities for research that is focused on science and development in Africa. Research Africa has 1 773 registered users and is a popular source among UP researchers.


2. The Pivot funding database

Pivot has 1 231 registered UP users and offers funding opportunities that amount to an estimated US$33 billion. This database takes the hassle out of finding suitable funding by suggesting funding opportunities via email alerts straight to your inbox.


3. The InfoED SPIN funding database

According to the InfoED website, SPIN Global Suite is the world’s largest database of funding opportunities and contains information on more than 40 000 opportunities offered by more than 10 000 sponsors worldwide.


4. The National Research Foundation (NRF)

The NRF is a South African government entity that promotes and supports research funding in South Africa. The Foundation provides funding opportunities to institutions of higher education for research in natural and social sciences, humanities and technology. Researchers can consult the NRF website at for information on the latest funding opportunities. Designated officials at DRIS can assist researchers with the online application process and institutional approval.


5. is the most definitive source for federal funding opportunities of the United States. Researchers can apply directly via the website, but must first register individually as users. You can consult the website at for the latest available funding.

It is imperative that you inform DRIS of your intention to apply as will consider only applications approved by DRIS. (The system works much like that of the NRF.) The DRIS Research Grants Management Division will assist researchers with the online application process and with obtaining institutional approval.


6. Research funding bulletin

This bi-weekly bulletin contains information on funding opportunities, notices of conferences, training and other events, calls for research papers and other research-related news at UP. DRIS compiles the bulletin and circulates it internally to staff, students and researchers who have signed up on the DRIS mailing list via their UP email accounts.

If you know of a funding opportunity and would like to share that information with other researchers in your faculty, you can add it to be uploaded and circulated.


7. Funding alerts

Tired of trailing the funding databases for the right call? DRIS can assist by setting up funding alerts to deliver only funding opportunities that suit your needs straight to your inbox. Tell DRIS about your research and the type of funding you need by completing the online funding alert form.


8. Call schedules

The call schedules of major funding agencies can be accessed on the DRIS website. Call schedules are advertisements of funding agencies’ anticipated funding opportunities in a given year. Deadlines are provided to enable applicants to plan and prepare ahead of time. The available call schedules include those of the Newton Fund, National Research Foundation, University of Pretoria, Water Research Council and Medical Research Council.


9. Institutional information

Once you have identified the right funding opportunity for you, you can consult for resources that will help you with the application.

Most application forms require institutional information such as institutional numbers and names of executive members. To find out what institutional information is required most often by funders, go to .


10. Application appendices

Some funders may require you to append additional documents such as financial statements, confirmation of bank details on the bank’s letterhead and stamped by the bank, tax clearance certificates and policies. To find out which documents are required most often, go to .


11. Budgets

All funding applications require you to submit some form of budget. Visit for guidelines on how to compile a budget easily, as well as additional information on, for example, the 10% institutional costs and subvention levies.


12. Check your application status

Once you have submitted your application to a funding agency, you can inform DRIS that you have submitted your application directly to the funding agency and request them to check the status of your application regularly. DRIS will then attend to any minor queries from funding agencies on your behalf. If your application is unsuccessful, DRIS can request feedback that might be useful when you prepare future applications.


13. Report reminder form

If your application is successful, you will receive an agreement stipulating requirements related to the submission of reports. Submitting your reports on time and in the correct format is an important aspect of maintaining a good relationship with your funder. A report gives the funder, and you, a visible indication of your progress, and a good report may improve your chances of receiving further funding. If you complete the report reminder form, DRIS will notify you in advance when reports and invoices are due.

Using these 13 resources makes finding and securing funding a breeze. To help you to register as a user on the many databases available, we offer a quick-to-complete user registration form that will simplify the process. 

Click here to complete the user registration form.


- Author Department of Research and Innovation Support

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