Guidance For Researching & Seeking Funding

   Funding Guide for COVID-19 Pandemic Related Initiatives & Projects

Guidance for
Researching &
Seeking Funding
Searchable Grant
COVID-19 Pandemic
Funding Updates
& Websites
COVID-19 Related
Search Terms
COVID-19 Citation

The Smithsonian is well positioned to engage in activities related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This guide is intended for Smithsonian experts from all disciplines to identify funding opportunities for current and potential COVID-19 related initiatives and projects. It provides resources and guidance to locate COVID-19 related funding that may align with Smithsonian expertise. More general funding resources and guidance are located on the Office of Sponsored Projects Prism website. This is an opportune time to form internal collaborative teams to maximize expertise and competitiveness for COVID-19 related proposals and initiatives. If you would like to seek additional expertise outside of your primary discipline, please feel free to reach out to the Smithsonian COVID-19 related activity leads listed on our Funding Updates & Websites page.

Smithsonian Institution staff (federal, trust, emeritus, and research associates) can submit applications for project funding from foundations, corporations, and governmental entities, through Smithsonian’s status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, as recognized by the Internal Revenue Service.

Understand the Role of SI Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP)

OSP provides general guidance on resources to find funding (OSP Funding Opportunities) and also assists with proposal development and submission, award negotiation, and award management. All grant/contract proposals to private or governmental entities must be reviewed and approved by OSP prior to submission to the funder. Contact your unit’s OSP liaison.

Understand the Role of SI Advancement

The central Office of Advancement (OA), and the advancement staff in each of the units across the Institution, collaborate to fundraise for a variety of Smithsonian initiatives. The advancement staff focus on obtaining support from individuals, corporations, and foundations whose interests align with SI exhibitions, programs, and projects. Prior to contacting individual donors or private and public companies, please communicate with the advancement staff in your unit or in OA to discuss the possibility of established relationships across SI and previous funding requests. Grant/contract funding from government entities is managed by the Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP). When private entities provide support through grants or contracts, SI Advancement works collaboratively with OSP on proposal submission and award negotiations. For more information, consult SI Advancement Contacts.

Understand the Federal Research Compliance Rules

All Smithsonian staff must follow research compliance regulations, as laid out by the federal government and the Smithsonian, when conducting research.  This can include a wide variety of activities, such as research involving human subjects or animals, shipping equipment overseas to conduct research, or providing appropriate research training to students, among others.   More information can be found at Smithsonian's Research Compliance Office.

Know Variations of COVID-19 Search Terms

COVID-19 vocabulary and search terms may vary by database. We have gathered some of the more common scientific terms in this brief guide.

Research What Others Have Published Already

Search the Smithsonian COVID-19 Citation Database which compiles searches of Cochrane Reviews, Google News Alerts, Google Scholar, ProQuest Coronavirus Database, Web of Science Core Collection, and Zoological Record. It consists of all available citations about COVID-19 or coronaviruses from these sources, including scholarly articles, theses, websites, newspaper articles, and even blog posts.

Search and Set Up a Profile with Automatic Searches for Major Databases

Many websites and databases provide you with the opportunity to get targeted or general updates on funding delivered to your email box. Learn more on our searchable grant databases page.

Consider checking with the National Science Foundation

 As of March 12, 2020, Secretary Bunch announced an agreement signed between the Smithsonian Institution and the National Science Foundation allowing NSF competitive programs to be open to Smithsonian federal and trust employees.

Learn More About Funding by Signing Up for Free Fundraising/Nonprofit E-Newsletters

  • Inside Philanthropy: News website about large philanthropic foundations and wealthy donors.
  • GrantStation Insider: Weekly e-newsletter with information on grant opportunities from national, regional, and federal funders.
  • Nonprofit Quarterly Magazine (NPQ): Nonprofit magazine publication which provides research based articles and resources to educate the nonprofit sector. The publication focuses on management, fundraising practices, philanthropy, and governance/board management.
  • Philanthropy News Digest: Daily news, jobs, and Request for Proposals (RFP) service. Philanthropy-related articles and features culled from print and electronic media outlets nationwide.


Many hands from across the Smithsonian were involved in the creation of this guide.

Trina Brown, Smithsonian Libraries; Kate Christen, Smithsonian Facilities; Stephen Cox, Smithsonian Libraries; Brian Coyle, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute/National Zoo; Barbara Ferry, Smithsonian Libraries; Anissa Holmes, Office of Advancement; Zach Johnson, Smithsonian Facilities; Carly Muletz Wolz, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute; Karen Otiji, Office of Sponsored Projects;  Baasil Wilder, Smithsonian Libraries; Sue Zwicker, Smithsonian Libraries