Office of Research

Developing a Foundation Proposal

To ensure the greatest chance for developing a strong relationship with a private foundation and securing a grant to support your project, we have developed the following guidelines to assist you.

(1)  Discuss the proposed project and the foundation you wish to approach with your department chair, center director, dean and/or other administrator to obtain approval to begin. The Office of Foundation Relations will require approval from the appropriate academic administrators before moving forward. Administrative approval is required to verify the project has institutional support and that it is considered your unit’s top priority for funding from the sponsor.

(2)  Contact the Office of Foundation Relations for guidance. The foundation relations officer (Devon Stein) is typically the institutional liaison with the foundation program officer and can provide guidance on next steps. A brief discussion with the Director of Foundation Relations will help determine if there is a good match between your project and the potential funder. If there is, the next step is to draft a proposal/concept paper using our Proposal Development Guidelines.

Note that certain foundations are managed by the Office of Foundation Relations; a list of these foundations can be found here. Top university administrators, such as the provost or president, serve as key contacts for many of these foundations and communicate with foundation program managers to develop long-term strategies for collaboration on major initiatives. Faculty should not contact these foundations directly; you need to contact Devon Stein in the Office of Foundation Relations for further information and guidance regarding your interest in any of these foundations.

(3)  Develop your proposal concept using our Proposal Development Guidelines. This exercise will help you create a concept paper that addresses the questions that foundations typically ask. While the specific application format varies between foundations, the essential questions that must be answered are the same.