Requesting Funding from Non-Governmental Organizations

A key element of successful proposal writing is establishing a relationship with the potential sponsor early in the process.  The purpose of the initial contact is to confirm the common areas of interest of the sponsor and the PI.  Having a contact at the funding organization can greatly facilitate writing the full proposal, serve as a resource for answering questions, and shepherd the proposal through the review process.

The Yale Office of Development maintains close ties to several of the larger foundations and manages all Yale requests to these organizations. Therefore, you should inform the Office of Development of your intent to seek support from a foundation and get their approval before calling or writing.

Even when working with the Office of Development, all proposals must be reviewed and approved by OSP prior to submission.  It is particularly important to provide OSP with a copy of the terms and conditions of every potential award.

Making an Approach to a Sponsor

In dealing with foundations and other funding organizations which support research and scholarly activities, it is valuable to establish direct personal contact with the funding organization during the early stages of planning a grant request. This allows the applicant to:

  1. Obtain, in a timely manner, information about whether your program is of interest to the foundation.
  2. Establish a working relationship with foundation staff members who will become most closely associated with the proposed project. These staff members will often provide considerable assistance in developing the proposal so that it is acceptable to those making the funding decision.

A visit by either the principal investigator or a representative is not usually necessary at the preliminary stage; however, a personal email or telephone call is suggested.

Contact by email

The email should contain the following and should be brief (the equivalent of one single-spaced typewritten page).

  1. Title of the proposed project.
  2. A brief description including significance of the proposal.
  3. Reference to the total (direct and F&A) estimated cost of the project and its duration. If the request will be for partial funding, make some mention of where the additional funding may come from.
  4. Request for a response as to whether or not the subject matter falls within the foundation’s area of interest.
  5. Request for any guidelines beyond the forms and instructions available on the sponsor’s website.
  6. A final paragraph stating that you will telephone within 10-14 days to hear the response.

Contact by phone

Write out items 1-5 above before you call so that nothing is forgotten during your conversation. When ending the call, say that you will send an e-mail confirming the conversation. Include the Items 1-3 and 5 in the note along with your version of what was said.

The foundation or funding organization will thereby have a summary of your understanding of the phone conversation plus the correct spelling of your name, your title, address, telephone and fax numbers, and email address.