Interested in applying for funding from a foundation or a sponsor that requires the applicant to have 501c3 status? Follow these steps:
Step 1: Understand Why
Why is OSP careful with proposals to these sponsors?
It’s about building relationships:
Unlike many federal sponsors, applying to a foundation is a delicate dance. How you ask a question or present your work is just as important as the question itself. Building a relationship with a foundation is critical. UNCG OSP asks that you let us help you build that relationship, so you can take the best first step.
Sometimes foundations have competitive grant programs, but also work directly with representative from our University Advancement Office on larger funding projects. Just as we want you to build a relationship with a sponsor, someone else on campus may have already done that building; we don’t want to compete with other faculty on campus if the funding is limited.
Lost in translation:
The language used by some in the nonprofit sector is slightly different than what many PIs are accustomed to with their Federal or State grants. Many concepts are the same, but the language can vary. Let us help you translate.
Foundations truly wish to fund projects that fit their funding priorities. We can help you evaluate if a particular foundation is a good fit for your project.
Step 2: Contact OSP
**Before you begin an online application or create an account, please contact OSP.
Fill out this form to email basic information to OSP. We’ll check with others on campus and in University Advancement and respond to you.
Step 3: Determine applicant organization and the allowable overhead rate
Two of the first questions we need to answer when applying to a foundation are:
1. Who will be the applicant organization?
2. Are overhead costs allowed?
How to find the answers:
1. Read the sponsor guidelines and any associated FAQ documents.
2. Check the sponsor website.
3. Call OSP and we’ll help.
4. If needed, OSP will make contact with the sponsor to ask. However, sometimes PIs find themselves in conversation with program officers, and the applicant organization and overhead questions come up. If this happens, see below for ways we suggest you ask these questions:
Many foundations will stipulate that they support 501c3 nonprofit organizations. UNCG is technically an Institution of Higher Education (IHE) that does have the same status as 501c3, but is officially a different designation. The bylaws and possibly accounting practices of some foundations require them to fund 501c3, and not IHE. In those cases, we can apply through the UNCG Excellence Foundation. The UNCG Excellence Foundation is the 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization that supports and funds a portion of sponsored research activity at UNCG.
Suggested ways in which to ask a sponsor
… about the eligible applicant organization:
We have the option of applying under two different organizations, and we would like to verify which is the best fit for your program. In our past experience working with foundations, we have encountered some that must issue funds only to 501c3 nonprofit organizations, while others can support both 501c3 AND public Institutions of Higher Education (IHE). Technically, UNC Greensboro (tax ID 56-6001468) is a public institution of higher education, which has the same status as a 501c3, but is officially a different designation. We have an affiliated organization (UNCG Excellence Foundation) that is a 501c3 (tax ID: 56-6086393). Our preference is to apply as UNCG, but please advise if this is acceptable.
Your potential sponsor may not use the same language you do to discuss overhead / indirects / F&A (Facilities and Administrative) costs. Most foundations do have limits, however we must be careful to ask them of their restrictions, not suggest that they do restrict.
Suggested ways in which to ask a sponsor…
… about overhead costs:
Will you please provide information on any limits (percentage or dollar amount) the [insert name of foundation] may have on F&A/overhead/indirect costs for this grant program?
Step 4: Prepare the proposal and submit for department, school, and OSP review via Ramses
- You will find many of the documents you need on the OSP PI Toolkit; however each sponsor is unique. Please see Step 2 to contact OSP about your project!
- If you have done this and are ready to start your online application, please be in touch with OSP about the best way to register yourself with the foundation. If the foundation uses a Foundant system, follow this link for a tutorial to account set-up: Setting Up a Foundation Proposal Account Using Foundant Software
- For guidance on developing your budget, visit the Budget Development page.
- Not sure how to route in Ramses? Visit: Ramses Routing page
Tips for writing your narrative to a Foundation
- More so than with Federal Sponsors, keep in mind that your target audience may not know the details of your work. Many foundations will be more receptive if you write in more general terms and tone.
- For social change opportunities, consider adding a compelling story.
Some sponsors allow or ask for images or video. Plan early!
- If you need letters for partners, ask early!
- As always, watch word and character limits, and check for any formatting requirements (font, margins, page numbers, line spacing).
- Aesthetics can make a big difference, and OSP can help.