Corporate and Foundation Funding

What does the Office of Corporate & Foundation Relations do?

The Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations (C&F Relations), an office within University Development, is responsible for the planning, organization and implementation of a program to build financial support for the College from local, regional, and national corporations and foundations. The C&F Relations office raises support to meet pressing program needs, capital projects, and College initiatives. Also, C&F Relations encourages and identifies opportunities for gifts-in-kind. To cultivate favorable relationships with funding organizations and information-gathering purposes, C&F Relations staff also arrange meetings with individuals, such as alumni, parents, or friends of the College, whose support of a project can garner attention and respect from a specific corporation or foundation.

What projects does the C&F Relations Office coordinate?

In order to fall within the realm of our services, a project must:

  1. Have institutional priority as defined by the President and Provost.
  2. Have the potential to obtain funding from corporations or foundations.
  3. Focus on philanthropic support and not on contracts for service or sponsored research.
  4. Encompass a program or project orientation, which generally involves more than one person's specific research interests.
  5. Have approval of the appropriate Dean or academic leadership as a priority for funding within a given academic area.

Preference is given to institutional priorities that are most likely to produce significant income.

However, where faculty members are planning to pursue funding that does not support either their own individual research or broad-based institutional projects, the Development Office is available to assist in 1) identification of funding sources, and 2) review of the proposal. In such cases faculty will need to provide the Development Office with a brief project description or case statement.

Why do corporations give?

Following are the 5 primary reasons for corporate philanthropy:

  1. Enlightened self-interest
  2. Research
  3. Social and community concerns
  4. Publicity
  5. Recognition
How does the C&F Relations Office obtain funding?

C&F Relations staff members and constituent development officers initiate and maintain contacts with corporate and foundation leadership throughout the country and actively seek major gifts for University priorities. The Office provides three major services for Deans, program directors, faculty members, and administrators:

  1. Guidance in selecting and approaching corporations and foundations for funding: It is important to select appropriate prospects based on their giving priorities. Generally, corporations and foundations have specific agenda for charitable giving, and many have published giving guidelines and annual reports of philanthropic activity. Some donate only in their local community, for example the Portsmouth Community Foundation, or in communities where they operate plants or subsidiaries. Some do not give to endowments, others like to give seed money for projects. The restrictions are many and are often highly specific. For example, a foundation with an interest in promoting community development may want to focus on policy but not on direct service. The best information comes from insiders and personal contacts in companies or foundations, who can help interpret funding policies and priorities. C&F Relations staff can help identify these contacts.
  2. Assistance in developing proposals and related materials: Proposals are based on drafts from faculty and are "customized" by development officers to respond to the priorities of prospective funders. Faculty are often skilled in writing proposals but may not be familiar with a company or foundation's current giving policies, priorities or preferred program style. Frequently, proposals go through a negotiation process with corporate contacts or foundation program officers reviewing drafts and offering suggestions for rewrites to C&F Relations development staff. C&F Relations staff offer expertise in editing proposals and providing useful feedback before a proposal is submitted. In addition, the office can provide some "boiler plate" proposal components on William and Mary (see Appendix III) and, when appropriate, letters of support from the President or Provost.
  3. Maintenance of a tracking system to coordinate requests throughout the University: The tracking system is a computerized listing of submitted, pending, or funded requests to corporations and foundations. Updated regularly, this listing is a valuable tool for planning and coordinating requests. This list will soon be available on WAMI so faculty are aware of what is pending at any given time.
What roles do development officers and faculty assume in the fundraising process?

Roles will vary with the project and with the faculty member's relative experience in seeking external funding. Further, faculty will do more independent work on the proposal if the project is their own, as opposed to a project that has been designated a College priority by the Department Chair, the Dean, the Provost, or the President.

Development Officers will coordinate the following activities with faculty members:

  • preparing a summary of the project to identify funding prospects
  • clarifying of funding needs and expected benefits
  • planning the project
  • writing a letter of inquiry, or draft proposal and budget
  • identifying and occasionally contacting prospective funding sources (see Appendix IV for a guide on how to approach corporation and foundation officers for information)
  • planning appropriate strategy
  • meeting agreed deadlines (for example to review drafts or create budgets)

The extent of involvement by the Corporate and Foundation Relations staff will vary depending on the type and scope of the project.

Why Coordinate Requests to Corporations and Foundations?

Faculty must check with their Department Chair, Dean and the Office of University Development before approaching a corporation or foundation. Some prospects consider only one request from an institution in a given funding cycle, annually, quarterly, or otherwise. Therefore, central coordination of proposals is essential to effective timing of requests.

Coordinating requests prevents confusion for prospective funders. In the past, foundation officers, after receiving multiple requests, have called C&F Relations staff seeking clarification on the University's priorities. Coordinating the timing, negotiations and emphasis of proposals will ensure an efficient flow of proposals, maintain productive relations with prospects, and ultimately, secure maximum funding.

The C&F Relations staff will be glad to let you know what has recently been submitted, what currently is being considered, and what plans exist to submit a proposal. In some cases, where foundations are decentralized, multiple proposals may be submitted. In the event that more than one proposal is being considered by a foundation or corporation with a centralized submission process, the C&F Relations office will contact the Provost or the appropriate Dean to ask which proposal reflects the University's top priority.

Where can I find information about corporations and foundations?

When faculty need information about prospects, they may request a funding search from the C&F Relations Office. Based on the project's institutional priority, development researchers will then be assigned to conduct a funding search.

Requests for research can generally be accommodated within three weeks. When a particular prospect is identified, C&F Relations staff can provide information about recent contacts with the prospect and its philanthropic priorities.

How can I get corporate or foundation funding?

The following sections explain more specifically the steps in working with the Office of Corporate & Foundation Relations.

To initiate a request, faculty members first need to get the approval of their Department Chair and Dean. Once the request has been prioritized, the faculty member will be directed to the Office of University Development or, in the case of Business, Law or SMS/VIMS, to their constituent development officer who will coordinate with C&F Relations staff. (See Appendix II for the list of development staff, email addresses and telephone numbers.)

The second step is to gather information about corporations and foundations in order to identify prospective funders. The Office of Development Research will generate a list of corporate and foundation funding prospects based on the project summary. Faculty input can be vital at this stage especially if the department already has established contacts with prospects. Professional journals may be useful in identifying prospects.

Third, faculty members and C&F Relations staff will work with the appropriate contacts at the prospective corporation or foundation to assess the chances for success of a proposal. Once a funder is identified, development staff will work with faculty to create and submit a well-timed proposal tailored to each specific prospect, and ensure follow-up with prospects to maximize the chances of success.

What is a good match of interests?

Funding requests have to match the donor's interests to be successful. Donor agendas are often highly specific. Projects must meet the donor's specifications to be funded. Sending a corporation or foundation a proposal that is not consistent with their priorities, will not reflect well on the College or result in funding.

Sometimes faculty can redirect projects, (for example, broaden the scope of the project), to create a good match of interests. One way this can be accomplished is by developing interdisciplinary projects or by entering into consortial arrangements with other universities or social agencies. Providing support for interdisciplinary projects and consortia increasingly is appealing to corporations and foundations.

Private foundations also will send out Requests for Proposals (RFPs) that are received by the C&F Relations Office. When this occurs, C&F Relations staff will direct faculty attention to such opportunities and provide help in responding appropriately.

How do I develop a proposal?

A good proposal is short! With the exception of a few foundations, proposals for philanthropic support are not peer-reviewed and do not need lengthy technical sections. Most people reviewing your proposal will not have your level of expertise. Corporate and foundation giving officers may receive hundreds of proposals each month, so the longer your proposal, the less likely it is that it will be reviewed. Many corporations and foundations specify a page limit for proposals or letters of inquiry. Pay close attention to these instructions; your proposal will only be considered if you follow them. Proposals from the C&F Relations Office are typically five to seven pages long, not including attachments. Letters of inquiry are generally no longer than three pages.

A case statement forms the core of a proposal and serves as the basis of a funding search. It is a statement that outlines the best arguments in favor of a project. The case statement is usually used for internal planning, but is sometimes included as part of the initial request to a funder. It has three parts: need, justification, and benefits.

The case statement can help explain society's need for a project, not just the department's need for funds. It provides persuasive arguments justifying why the donor should support the project at the College of William and Mary rather than at another institution. Lastly, it states the expected outcomes and benefits of the program or project.

Proposals should have a clear emphasis on (1) what you want, (2) why you require support, and (3) what impact your program will have, if funded. Because most corporate and foundation program officers are not specialists in your field, plain English is preferred over technical jargon. Attachments should be included only as needed; extensive resumes or curriculum vitae usually are not necessary, though short biographical summaries are often appropriate.

Proposals should be easy to disassemble and duplicate. Avoid bindings that are difficult to remove. Fancy, high-gloss or color-printed proposals tend to send a mixed message to funders. (If you can afford to create expensive documents, do you really need extra money?) With the exception of stand-alone attachments, keep the body of the proposal simple. The proposal should be printed with black ink on white paper.

Generally, the items to be covered in a proposal are stated in a corporation or foundation's guidelines.

Common Elements of Most Corporation and Foundation Proposals

  1. Cover sheet: names the contact person at William and Mary and provides the address and telephone number.
  2. Project or Program summary: answers who, what, where, when, why and how much? It introduces the reader to the purpose of the proposal. The first paragraph of a proposal or letter of inquiry should state the amount needed from the funding source.
  3. Statement of need/purpose: describes what the proposed program intends to accomplish. How unique is this program? Is it replicable? Will it serve as a model for other schools?
  4. Solution - gives a brief overview of the proposed program and explains how the donor's money will be used.
  5. College's qualifications: discusses special strengths relevant to the problem and its solution and answers why the funder should support William and Mary over other institutions. Special "boiler plate" material describing the College may be included here or put separately in an Appendix. (See Appendix III for an example of "boiler plate" information)
  6. Methods: details specifics of the program such as who will do what? What will they do? How long will it take?
  7. Evaluation methods: answers the questions how did we do? Did we accomplish what we intended to? How do we know if the program was a success?
  8. Future funding plans: addresses the long-term funding plans for the project/program.
  9. Budget and narrative: outlines and explains planned expenditures.
  10. Appendices: provide additional information as required or needed; 501(c)(3) letter of tax exempt status, most recent audited financial report, annual report, Board of Visitors list, and Endowment Association Trustees list.

In addition, foundations often require completion of their standard application form or a cover letter from the President or Provost. C&F Relations staff can assist you in pulling together this information.

Above all, proposals must meet the prospect's deadline. Proposal writers need to build time for review into the preparation schedule, well ahead of the deadline.

What do foundations look for in a request?

Foundation philanthropy is based on interpretations of the wishes of the founder. Program officers have greater or lesser degrees of autonomy in this regard; the extent of their authority depends on their relationship with the Board of Trustees. Ultimately, directors and trustees have the final say. Decisions can be highly personal, especially in a family foundation.

Foundations have specific agenda. Foundations are established for the explicit purpose of making grants to nonprofit organizations. They know exactly what causes they want to support. Reading foundation guidelines and contacting them to obtain specifics on current funding priorities are vital steps to follow prior to submitting a proposal.

Currently, many foundations' priorities include effecting social change. Emerging trends in philanthropic giving include providing grant support at the K-12 level and gifts for community development.

Nothing is constant but change. The budgets of many companies' corporate philanthropy offices depend on the corporate bottom line. In bad years, charity suffers. Takeovers and mergers change funding priorities, as well. Similarly, foundation boards change trustees, program officers exert pressures for change, and foundation agenda alter. C&F Relations staff and College contacts help faculty stay informed of changes.

What is stewardship and why is it important?

Stewardship is one of the most important parts of the fundraising process. Stewardship means maintaining contact with donors and demonstrating your gratitude for their support. Most foundations and corporations require periodic reports of progress on funded projects. Even if a report is not required, it is prudent to submit one. Good stewardship serves as good cultivation for subsequent gifts. Stewardship with corporations may take the form of short letters or brief reports, in which faculty or development staff can discuss results and express gratitude for the gift. This process is coordinated through the C&F Relations Office.

Stewardship may also take the form of special events, plaques in public places, invitations to special on-campus events, notes expressing appreciation, and articles in newspapers or alumni publications. With corporations and foundations, the Office of Development will propose various stewardship/recognition options as well as ask what other types of stewardship the donors require.

The C&F Relations office sends acknowledgment letters and reports to corporate and foundation donors. It is extremely helpful for stewardship purposes when faculty members keep the C&F Relations office informed of who their corporate contacts are and to whom letters and other stewardship items should be sent. Such recognition items as books, art prints, bookends, and so forth, are available for donors at various levels. To find out more about presenting such items to donors, please call the Office of Stewardship or C&F Relations staff.

I did not get the money. What can I do now?

Don't give up. Hope springs eternal in University Development! There are many reasons why proposals are not funded and intense competition for funds is just one of them. Perhaps another university has an alumnus on the foundation's board of trustees, company policy about giving areas has changed, the foundation has just funded a similar request from another institution, or your proposal has inadequately addressed the donor's specifications. Sometimes you can renegotiate for a smaller award and obtain the balance of the required funding elsewhere. Be prepared to tell prospects what you can do with less than full funding.

Some projects are just not fundable. No matter how great your idea, how expert your University Development support, or how reliable your volunteers, there may not be donors interested in your project. In that case, it is advisable to rethink the project's financing options.

Processing gifts

How to tell a gift from a grant:

A gift comes without expectation of tangible return. Generally, gifts are made by corporations to further a positive corporate image, strengthen recruiting potential, and achieve greater visibility. The corporate gift generally requires a "stewardship" report to account for how we used the funds provided and what impact they had on our program/students/faculty. Here, the primary relationship is between the corporation and the College and not with any single member of the faculty. All corporate, foundation or individual gifts must come to the Office of Development to be processed and accounted for.

A grant comes with clear expectation of tangible return on the investment made. Receiving a grant constitutes a contractual agreement between the grantor and grantee. When receiving a grant, there is no expectation of "visibility" or other forms of recognition. Simply, the researcher is expected to fulfill the terms of the grant. The primary relationship is not between the corporation and the College, but between the corporation and individual faculty member. The grant must be accepted by the College's Grants Office. Because College resources are being used to fulfill the terms of the grant, an overhead fee is assessed to cover such indirect costs as electricity, space, personnel, materials, supplies, etc. The Grants Office will work with faculty to create appropriate budgets calculating indirect costs as well as other budget items.

How do I process a monetary gift? Faculty receiving gifts or offers of gifts should contact the Vice President or the Director of Development of the Office of University Development. The gift you receive will go into an account where expenditures can be easily processed and monitored for bookkeeping and audit purposes. The Office of University Development will create an account/endowment when a cash gift is received.

How do I process a gift-in-kind? Contact the Office of University Development as soon as you are aware of a donor's interest in donating a gift-in-kind, and certainly before accepting it. Typical examples of gifts-in-kind include computers, scientific equipment, furniture, or library materials. Some gifts-in-kind require careful handling, especially gifts of real estate, and a few cannot be accepted. Our staff can advise you on appraisals, tax implications, appropriateness of the proposed gift, necessary approvals, IRS reports, and so forth.

How does the College process an endowment? Currently, the minimum level for establishing a scholarship fund is $25,000. The minimum level for funding an endowed professorship is $300,000, and an endowed chair is $1.25 million. Once an endowment is established, a resolution is drafted and then passed by the Endowment Association stating the purpose of the endowment. For information about establishing an endowment, contact the Vice President for University Development or the Director of Development.