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Finding Foundations

The Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations has access to databases which can assist University faculty and staff in identifying appropriate foundation funding sources for your project.

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. For more information, contact Tara Fleming (

What are foundations looking for?
Here are some general 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 interests.
  • They commit to providing measurable results. For example, training 50 farmers in Madagascar about sustainable agricultural practices, resulting in 500 acres under sustainable cultivation, as opposed to a conference where world hunger is discussed.

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

  • What social, educational or research question will you 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 construction 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 you will achieve the desired results.
    • Discusses the evaluation plan or methods for measuring success.
    • 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 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 and other independent contractors, as well as grant-related student stipends or fellowships.

Non-personnel expenses may include facility costs (rental and/or maintenance), equipment costs, communications, publications, travel, postage and the cost of outside project evaluation, where applicable. Administrative costs consist of the Stony Brook Foundation’s fixed institutional overhead fee of 15% 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 additional information about finding foundations or preparing a grant submission, please contact:

Tara Fleming
Executive Director
Corporate and Foundation Relations
(631) 632-4430