CFR Toolkit

Grant-writing Toolkit and Best Practices

  • Finding foundations
  • What are foundations looking for?
  • Developing a proposal
  • Proposal primer
  • Budget tips

Finding Foundations
The Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations has access to databases which can assist you in determining the most appropriate foundations for your work.  This information can shorten the time it takes for you to find credible prospects for funding and can assist in creating a funding strategy designed particularly for you.

Our office is pleased to assist by:

  • Identifying ongoing or upcoming projects on campus that share and match foundation and corporate mission and goals
  • Scheduling, planning and hosting on-or-off campus visits to introduce foundation and corporate representatives to the important work taking place at UVa-Wise
  • Providing current materials about innovative projects and priorities at the College
  • Coordinating opportunities for foundation and corporate representatives to come to Wise and meet with key administrators, faculty and staff
  • Sharing current requests for proposals (RFPs) with administrators and faculty across the campus

What are Foundations Looking For?
Here are some common attributes of “fundable” projects:

  • They have a beginning, middle and end (or a credible plan for sustainability after the grant).
  • They have a clearly defined goal directly tied to one of the foundation’s expressed interest.
  • They commit to providing measurable results.

It is important to create answers to these questions about your project:

  • What social, educational or research question will your work address?
  • What will change as a result of your proposed work?
  • How much will it change?
  • How will you know (how will your work be evaluated)?

Foundations often do not fund ongoing budget needs, endowments, conferences or the production of videos or media.

Developing a Proposal
The Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations is here to help faculty and staff by reviewing ideas to assess the likelihood of private sector corporate and/or foundation support, assisting with research about potential private sector corporate and foundation funding, and assisting with the crafting of letters of inquiry, grant proposals and project budgets.

Proposal Primer
Foundations often require a pre-proposal or Letter of Inquiry before the submission of a formal proposal.  A Letter of Inquiry should be no longer than two pages.  Such a letter permits you to make inquiries to several foundations at once and gives an interested foundation the chance to offer guidance and suggestions before you develop a full proposal.

Once you have been invited to submit a full proposal you should prepare a concise and specific narrative that explains how your project matches the mission and priorities of the corporation or foundation.  If the funding entity provides guidelines or directions for proposal submission, follow them meticulously.  If there are no guidelines, you can follow this proposal outline:

  • Executive Summary:  Clearly and concisely summarizes your proposal.
  • Introduction:  Establishes your credibility and qualifications to carry out the project.
  • Narrative:
    • Documents the problems or needs your work will address.
    • Establishes the desired objectives of the project in measurable terms.
    • Describes the methods or activities through which your work will achieve the desired results.
    • Describes the plan for post-grant sustainability.
  • Budget: Details the project’s overall cost breakdown and the expenditure of the grant.
  • Supplemental Funding:  Identifies additional internal and external project resources.
  • Project Team:  Curriculum Vitas (CVs) of the principal investigator, project director and other team members.
  • Supplemental Materials:  Letters of endorsement, pertinent articles, tax certification documents, etc.(Note: Please contact the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations for assistance with these materials).

Budget Tips
The Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations can provide worksheets and templates for budget planning. The budget should be clear, realistic and detailed, and should tell the same story as the proposal narrative.  It should account for income from all sources (including in-kind or donated) and expenses over the entire course of the grant period. On the expense side, your budget should differentiate program (direct) costs from administrative (indirect) costs.

Program costs comprise both personnel and non-personnel expenses related to your project. Personnel expenses should include salary and benefit information for employees whose full or partial income will be derived from your grant. Remember to include the cost of consultants or other independent contractors, as well as grant-related student stipends or fellowships.

Non-personnel expenses may include facility costs (rental/maintenance), equipment costs, communications, publications, travel, postage and the cost of outside project evaluation, where applicable. Administrative costs consist of the University of Virginia’s College at Wise’s fixed institutional overhead fee for processing the grant. Grant proposals to foundations that do not award indirect costs should include the amount of the overhead fee as a university contribution.

For more information, contact the
Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations

Don Sharitt
Bowers-Sturgill Hall