FUNDING: How many proposals should you submit?

I have been in my current position for nine years. I submitted plenty of research proposals before I came to MSU, but I have now established a long-ish record of proposal writing and grantsmanship at one institution. I did a quick search through our proposal database and figured out that I submitted, either as PI or co-PI, at least 68 proposals between August 2006 and December 2014. That is an average of about 8.5 proposals per year. Here is a nifty graph of submitted proposals from 2006-2014 contrasted with the number of those proposals that were actually funded:

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Of the 68 proposals shown in the graph, 13 were funded. This is a 19% funding rate. I was pretty intrigued to see that this rate is on par with the overall EHR funding rate – most of my funding runs through EHR. In 2013-14, EHR funding rates were 17-18%! [Note: To my colleagues in geoscience who claim that I am in a field where it is “easy to get funding” – um, no. For the 2006-2014 time frame, EHR’s highest funding rate was 29%. GEO had a whopping high of 45%. That’s an almost 50-50 chance of getting funded! ].

So, how many proposals should you submit? If you are like me, you need to pay attention to the programs you submit to and submit based on the funding rate. At this time, I can hope to be funded once for every five proposals I submit to EHR. What are the funding rates like in your field?

EDIT: June 1, 2015

My colleague, Titus Brown, was nice enough to offer his proposal acceptance and funding rates to add to this conversation. Titus works at the intersection between bioscience and computer science. Between 2008 and 2014, Titus submitted 43 proposals. Of these, 11 were funded; that’s a 25% funding rate. Here is his nifty graph – looks similar to mine:

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