1. How do I approach a private foundation about receiving funding for my project?
Each foundation has its own processes, so read the website carefully. Many private foundations require a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) (aka Letter of Intent) before they will invite a full proposal. An LOI is usually one to two pages, briefly describes the project, explains the funding need, and demonstrates how the project intersects with the potential funder's interests. LOI's generally do not include full budgets, timelines, supporting letters, or CVs. LOI’s are a mechanism for a foundation to determine whether they are interested in inviting a full proposal, saving both the prospective applicant and funder from wasted time if the fit between the project and a donor's interests is not sufficient.
2. How do I approach a corporation about receiving funding for my project?
Donations may come from the company directly or through a separate, company-sponsored foundation. A corporate foundation is a separate legal entity that maintains close ties with the parent company. Their giving often reflects company interests. In other cases, corporate foundation funding programs may be focused on activities that benefit their employees or communities where the company operates. The corporate foundation may have specific areas of interests, such as STEM education, the arts, or sustainability. Some things to look for:
3. What criteria do foundations and corporations use when deciding which projects and institutions to fund?
While the particular motivation will vary, all funders want their gifts to make an impact on society, a geographic region, or a discipline. Be sure to read the funder's guidelines on the corporation's or foundation's webpage or in its annual report. Often information will be very specific about what they are looking for in a proposal. When framing your project to the funder, keep the following questions in mind:
4. How far in advance of a launching of a project should I apply for foundation/corporate foundation funding?
The length of time from the submission of a preliminary inquiry to an invitation to submit a full proposal to an award varies considerably from funder to funder. While some funders review proposals as they are received, most funding decisions are made by aboard that meets periodically; board meeting schedules vary considerably: from bimonthly to annually. Private foundations and corporate foundations therefore often need to receive materials well in advance of a board meeting, sometimes several months prior. Although each has its own process, many funders will require 6 months to a year for the decision process to run its course.
5. What LOI/proposal-writing assistance is available?
Preparing a proposal can be a sizable undertaking, involving many details. CFR can review drafts of LOIs and proposals prior to submission, make suggestions, and insure compliance with proposal content and formatting requirements; however, the team submitting the proposal should assume primary responsibility for developing the proposal narrative. Here is a rough outline of the responsibilities of the director of the team and the assistance we can provide.
Responsibilities of the Team Leader
6. I have already written a proposal and I have a contact in a foundation/corporation/corporate foundation. May I apply on my own or do I still need to get internal approvals?
You will need to submit your proposal through the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP), as you would with any other proposal, and provide the required documentation. OSP will electronically route Foundation proposals to CFR, for review and approval. Additional information on preparing proposals and getting approval from OSP can be found on the OSP proposal preparation website, at https://www.baylor.edu/research/osp/index.php?id=36529
7. I usually do federal proposals. How are foundation/corporation/corporate foundation budgets different?
Each foundation and corporation has its own set of allowable and unallowable budget items, so be aware of your prospective funder's regulations when preparing a budget. Just like federal proposals, most foundation budgets require budget justifications. The funder may specify the format in which the budget should be presented. If not, your format must simply present the budget expenses and project income clearly. Budgets will vary widely in the level of detail depending upon the complexity and scope of the project. If you are submitting a full proposal, the budget must contain all of the costs associated with the project.
8. What are the accepted deviations from the negotiated Facilities and Administrative (F&A) rate?
Many foundations do not support F&A charges or pay a reduced rate. Typically, Baylor University applicants need to get a statement of the foundation's overhead policy in writing in order to obtain a waiver of the full rate. The University honors a sponsor's written policy on allowable F&A rates. For example, many training grants limit F&A costs to 8% Modified Total Direct Cost (MTDC) and many foundations limit F&A costs to 10% of total direct costs. In such documented cases, the OSP will apply the allowed F&A rate instead of the University's federally negotiated rate. For application guidelines that are silent on F&A, the OSP will apply the appropriate federally negotiated rate. For application guidelines that are silent on F&A, the OSP will apply the appropriate federally negotiated rate. https://www.baylor.edu/research/osp/index.php?id=38473
9. What type of institutional materials should be sent with the proposal?
The foundation or corporation will tell you what to include. Links to websites that show examples or give guidelines for many of the commonly requested documents are available. CFR staff are able to assist in obtaining other specific materials that may be required. Submissions may include some of the following documents:
10. Who is eligible to be an applicant?
Typically, the applicant should be Baylor University, utilizing the University's Employer ID Number (EIN) and tax-exempt status.
11. What should I do if the foundation/corporation I am applying to requires a letter from the president or other executive leadership to accompany the proposal?
Our office can assist in preparing a letter to accompany the submission. A minimum of two-weeks lead time is required to review and process requests for this assistance.
12. After submitting a proposal, how long will it take for a response?
It depends on the foundation or corporation. Some may respond to a proposal in as little as one month, while others take as long as 12-18 months to reach a decision. The foundation will usually communicate a time frame if you ask. Some foundations include their time-table for funding decisions on their website.