UW logo
Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP)

Tips for Working with Private Funders

Here are some steps you can take to increase the likelihood that your project will be funded by a private donor:

Review the funder's web site
Identify the types of projects they fund and why, as well as which organizations or individuals they have funded in the past two years.
Contact successful grantees
If possible, talk with current or former grantees about their experience with the funder. This is a great way to learn about the funder's interests and preferences for projects, as well as what to expect after you've been funded.
Familiarize yourself with the funder's application process
Do they accept letters of Inquiry? What is their review process? Who makes the final decision? Learning these details can help you tailor your proposal to their standards.
Submit a letter of inquiry if appropriate
Many private organizations are willing to take a higher level of risk to promote innovation, so they keep their full proposal guidelines somewhat general. Such organizations often accept brief letters of inquiry to introduce a project concept.
Research a funder's preferences for proposals
Identify any requirements regarding proposal length, budget detail, and statistical support. Also, find out if the funder prefers submissions to be submitted online or by mail. An online submission process may affect the design and length of your proposal.
Make personal contact with the funder
Before you submit your proposal, if possible. Discussing your idea with a program officer can be very instructive.
Know the funder's submission deadline
Never miss a deadline - including progress and follow-up reports.
Find out if the funder prefers to make its grants through the UW Foundation
The Foundation is the UW's 501(c)(3) entity. Gifts through the Foundation typically follow a different process from grants. To learn more about how corporations and foundations work with the UW Foundation, see Ways of Giving.
Add a little glitz
When constructing a proposal to a private donor or sponsor, presentation matters a Add a little glitz. When constructing a proposal to a private donor or sponsor, presentation matters a great deal. In a pool of superlative projects, a little "glitz" may help your proposal stand out. The Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations provides a rich library of templates and tools to help you add professional glitz to your proposal.
Avoid professional jargon
Private organizations' reviewers frequently are not specialists but instead highly educated, professionally experienced generalists. To accommodate this audience, you may need to adapt the language you use to describe your work.
Leave time for completion of eGC1 Form
Just like most publicly funded grant opportunities, private grant requests must be reviewed by OSP prior to submission and so would require completion of the e-GC1 form. You should submit your proposal to OSP at least 10 business days prior to the funder's proposal deadline.

For more assistance with private funding opportunities, see UW Corporate and Foundation Relations Resource Center.