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  Affiliation - Who Needs It?
  Why Many Grants Call for Institutional Affiliation
  The Affiliation Continuum
Conclusion: Individualism and the Grantseeker
  No One Works Alone
Guide to Fiscal Sponsorship and Affiliation

Conclusion: Individualism and the Grantseeker

To paraphrase a statement John Steinbeck once made: Great ideas come only from individuals working on their own. American society as we know it today evolves from a firm belief in rugged individualism whereby each individual pulls himself up by his or her own bootstraps. According to prevalent but perhaps unfair stereotypes, inventors are natural recluses; scientists jealously guard secret formulas from one another; artists require uninterrupted solitude in order to work; performers are temperamental and unable to get along with their compatriots; grantseekers are noted pariahs, eternally in competition with one another, and unwelcomed by funders because of their numbers and incessant demands.

Yet, in apparent contradiction to the tradition of rugged individualism, a popular doctrine among many funders today is that only second-rate thinkers work in private. Grants decision makers favor projects involving established organizations and ideas that affect large numbers of people. They are impressed by coalitions among grantseekers, especially when they exhibit an awareness of what others in their field are doing and a willingness to touch base and cooperate whenever possible with other grantseekers and funders as well. A grants decision maker employs one major criterion when evaluating a proposal — the strength of the individual grantseeker's roots in the community in which he or she works. Hence, the unaffiliated grantseeker must stress those aspects of his or her grant project that enable him or her to cooperate, instruct, or help others in order to make the idea more attractive to funders.

The endeavor to resolve the apparent conflict between the American tradition of individualism and the current emphasis on collaborative work among grantseekers is intrinsic to this discussion. It is possible to work "on your own" on your idea for a grant while simultaneously seeking the support of others. Such balance is difficult but not impossible to achieve.

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