Corporate & Foundation Relations

What foundations look for

When foundation staff or board members review your proposal, they will look for answers to the following questions:


  • Does the proposed project or program align with our mission and our particular strategy to achieve that mission?


  • How important is the proposed work to our mission?
  • What contribution will it make to the field?
  • Why should we invest our limited resources in this work?
  • Are there other more likely funders?


  • What is the applicant’s or team’s expertise? What is the competition?
  • Does the applicant present a well-developed, coherent and rigorous plan?


  • What resources and organizational support does the applicant have?


  • Is the proposed work reasonable in scope and duration?
  • Can the applicant devote sufficient time and resources to the proposed work?


  • What difference will it make if the applicant’s work succeeds?


  • How will the applicant know if the work is successful?
  • How will he or she measure progress to goal?
  • How will measurements inform course corrections along the way?


  • If a program rather than a project, does the applicant have a plan for continuing the work beyond the grant?

Successful proposals not only answer these questions, they do so in a way that is clear, coherent and focused. Avoid jargon and acronyms and back up your claims with evidence. Revise for readability.