Funding from Foundations: How.


These are my notes from a Wayne State “Political Science Research Council” presentation by Dr. Earl Ryan (Citizens Research Council). Dr. Ryan was President of the CRC, and the CRC is supported by businesses and foundations. Lesson learned: create an endowment and increase foundation funding.

Dealing with Foundations:

            Kinds of foundations: (1)  community (created by a large number of donors-

                                                            members from the community). Governed by

                                                            community leaders.

                                                     (2)  private (Kellogg, Bill and Mil. Gates) not subject to

                                                             much regulation. Range of interests is phenomenal.

            Willing to support many causes.

                    a. free-standing: (Kellogg) endowed: pot of money that they manage.

                    b. corporate: mission to enhance the image of the corporation (e.g., DSO).

Main Points:    

  • Know the history of the Foundation. They have goals and guidelines that you can talk to so that you are a great fit for the Foundation. Guidelines are for them to say no to you. Example, Gilmore Foundation for arts. But, Citizens Research Council would give them policy advice about art, so they were awarded $5,000.
  • Find out what other organizations or grantees have received funding. Look for ideological bents.
  • If you want to sever your ties with a Foundation, go political with their money.
  • Learn about the Board members! The President is where the decisions are made. Mott Foundation, for example, President can make decisions without Board approval.
  • Know the President’s agenda, if possible. If the President has a Public Policy agenda, you may be more likely or less likely to get an award. Or, if the President is a Christian Scientist, don’t go there looking for Healthcare funds.
  • “Fish with a Long Pole.”  Or, identify with the Foundation that has funds for an area of interest that is similar to your interest area. Ask, “Will you not give money for urban affairs (i.e. my idea)”
  • Schedule an appointment with a staffer in the agency. They are often quite knowledgeable. Don’t take a staffer’s advice as a death sentence, if negative. Say, “Thanks, I’ll be back next year with a new project.” Remember, they are in the business of giving away money.
  • When you are ready to submit a proposal, put together a concept paper (2-3      pages, concepts with outlines and budget) is often good enough for grant application (once you know the President / people).
  • Foundations like to partner with each other, so that they can leverage their money.
  • A Foundation Grant is an act of faith (with reporting requirements). So, keep them informed. Work with them. They will extend the grant outline because they want the job done and don’t want the money back.
  •  Some foundations will take grant applications from individuals.  To receive Grant foundation, you should be a 501-c3.
  •  Oceans of 501-c3 would work with a graduate student on a relevant project.

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