Corporate & Foundation Relations

Assessing fit and moving forward with a foundation

So you are interested in seeking funding from a foundation…what do you do now? The resources below will provide you a high-level overview of steps to take to ensure that the foundation is a good fit for your work/project, what to do once you’ve determined it is a good fit, and how to put your best foot forward in the application.

We encourage faculty and staff who are interested in seeking funding to reach out to their unit advancement staff for support.

Assessing the fit

  • Mission and vision: What does the foundation fund and why?
  • Strategy: How does the foundation invest its resources to achieve its vision? For example:
    • Technology development to enable research.
    • Basic research to advance knowledge.
    • Translational research to develop interventions, therapies, solutions.
    • Programs to deliver services.
  • Practice: Who and what has it funded in the last two to three years?
    • What kinds of organizations does it fund?
    • What portion of awards go to universities for the type of work you do?
    • What characterizes the people involved in projects the foundation funds?
    • What is the type, size and duration of awards?
    • Do recipients include colleagues you can talk with?
  • Clues in print and online: What do the foundation’s communications reveal?
    • Content — themes, focus, the foundation’s story.
    • Language — beyond content: word choices, key words, style, tone.
    • Imagery — photos, graphics, fonts, logos, other visual elements, layout.
  • Consult
    • Talk with your Advancement staff.
    • If the foundation provides a way to learn more, including talking with a program officer, reach out.

Build your case: Your case states how your work holds the potential to advance understanding or solve a problem. It is the basis for letters of inquiry and proposals. And it can help you communicate with foundation program officers.

Tailor your approach: Once you have built your case, you can modify it for each foundation. While you should never change your work to suit a funder, you can change how you present it to help a foundation more readily see how supporting your work will help it achieve its goals.

Tips for Maximizing your Application: What you need to consider to submit a great application.

Essential elements for high-impact scientific writing: Key elements discussed include: how research tells a story, learning when to write and when to use a figure, knowing your audience, staying clean and clear, asking an English speaker to review, connecting to a current topic, reviewing and trimming words, and understanding that the abstract is key for reviewers.

Write great recommendation letters (HHMI/BWF): The Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Burroughs Wellcome Fund provide insights and advice from experienced investigators on how to write a successful recommendation letter. Key points include preparation, what to say and not to say, gender-bias, and how to ask someone to write a letter for you. Guide includes sample letters.