Answers to common questions the Foundation Relations office receives are below. Please reach out to a Foundation Relations team member for further clarification and/or if you are ready to move forward with a potential proposal.
Who establishes priorities for fundraising and grant requests at the university?
Priorities for funding requests are set by the President, the Provost, the Deans, and Department Heads. Foundation Relations does not establish priorities for obtaining funds. Foundation Relations’ assistance with seeking funds for initiatives that have not been identified as university priorities will be limited.
Why should I engage with the Office of Foundation Relations?
If you have identified a private funding source you would like to approach, or if you would like help researching potential prospects, please connect with the Office of Foundation Relations. Our team can be your best resource in developing relationships with local and national funders. We understand that every pitch and proposal is different, and we can be your partner in this process.
When should I contact the Office of Foundation Relations?
The sooner we are aware of your intentions to seek funding, the better we can help you navigate the process. We will lead you through the funder’s guidelines to ensure the best possible alignment between your project and the funder’s goals. When appropriate, we will also work with you to make initial contact with the funder. As we help you in the development of your proposal, we will also help guide you through WPI’s internal processes for seeking funding, as needed. This will include coordinating the appropriate review and approvals by the university’s academic and administrative management. Finally, if required by the funder, we can help with the formal submission of your proposal.
What should I expect from private funding proposals/applications?
Every funder is unique and has its own guidelines and process. The information and narrative requested by funders can vary greatly and reflects their individual mission and focus. Many foundations require pre-proposals or letters of inquiry (LOI) as a pre-requisite to an invitation to submit a full proposal. These pre-proposals generally do not include full budgets, timelines, supporting letters or curricula vitae.
Each funder has its own set of allowable and unallowable budget items, so you need to be aware of what their requirements are when preparing the budget. Generally, these budgets do not carry the federally negotiated indirect rate, but you will find that many of the items counted as indirect costs in a government proposal are direct costs in a grant proposal. Examples of these items might include supplies, computers, facility use, and administrative support. It is important to know what costs are allowed in a budget – often “overhead” costs are impermissible. Similar to federal proposals, most foundation and corporation budgets require line-item justifications.
May I apply on my own if I already know the funder?
No. Foundation Relations internal review process ensures that other faculty or staff members are not already seeking a grant from the same funder. Also, Foundation Relations works to maintain consistency and integrity of approach through on-going relationships with funders. It is possible that WPI has approached the funder before and/or will approach the funder in the future. These factors can have a significant impact on the success of not only your proposal, but also the proposals of your colleagues. Therefore, it is very important that all proposals to private and corporate funders are approved and submitted through Foundation Relations.
If I am already working with a private funder, should I still contact Foundation Relations?
Yes. Please let us know about any contacts you have with foundations, even if the relationship does not necessarily involve grant or gift funds. To be most effective for WPI, we do need to have a complete picture of the university’s overall relationship and to occasionally help manage simultaneous requests to the same foundation. Consistency in our approach and management of WPI’s many faceted relationships with foundations can impact our funding success. Recognizing that each circumstance is different, we will discuss ways in which we can, or even should, be involved. Sometimes, we will simply provide you with any insight we might have, including the funders historical relationship with WPI.
How does WPI handle limited submission proposals?
There are a handful of funders that impose “limited submission” guidelines. Often, this means that only one application from WPI will be accepted annually. To apply for funding from funders with limited submission opportunities, preauthorization will need to be requested and approved. Please contact the Office of Foundation Relations as soon as you identify a limited submission opportunity of which you have an interest to pursue.
I need a small grant of less than $50,000 for things related to my teaching and/or research. Will you be able to help me?
Generally, we are unable to provide you with research or proposal writing assistance for grants under $50,000 due to our staffing limitations. However, we are happy to review any funding opportunities you have identified and wish to pursue and provide limited assistance with proposal preparation.
I have a donor who is interested in making an in-kind gift to WPI. Does your office assist with these gifts?
Yes, the Foundation Relations office can help to assist with the internal processes involved with accepting gifts in-kind.
I am partnering with colleagues at another institution, can your office still help me?
Yes, if your proposal will benefit WPI financially, either as the primary applicant or sub-awardee, then we are happy to be involved.
Does Foundation Relations offer training on working with funders?
At times, we offer training sessions on how to work with funders, how to conduct research to identify funders, and how to prepare proposals. These sessions are offered by our office and in conjunction with several campus partners. Please contact our office for additional information.