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Development University of Illinois Springfield

Corporate and Foundation Grant Seeking and Proposal Development

Grant Seeking Process

In general, Foundations…

  • May or may not use RFPs (requests for proposals) to seek proposals
  • May accept proposals on a rolling basis or have strict deadlines
  • Often preclude submission of unsolicited proposals
  • Often favor programs and institutions already known for their quality
  • Use additional information obtained by foundation staff and board members that does not appear in the proposal
  • Use selection criteria not always clearly defined
  • May or may not allow for feedback on declined proposals

Proposal Development

To help organize the basics of your project, our office provides this Proposal Development Form (pdf). When you finish the form, you will have a 2-3 page concept paper that will facilitate prospect/funder identification and proposal development.

What will I need to get started?

  • Clear outline of your project
  • Description of the problem to be solved/addressed Concept, with goals and objectives
  • Target group/audience, addressing the need
  • Location
  • Timeline, often the proposal charts this with the activities, roles and outcomes
  • Activities, the proposal should tie these to who will do the work (roles)
  • Outcomes, measurable and relating back to the objectives
  • Evaluation Plan, the proposal should have examples of your evaluation tools
  • Resources/budget

Components of a Full Proposal:

  • Cover Letter
  • Cover sheet/title page
  • Executive Summary
  • Statement of Need
  • Project Objectives
  • Project Description and management Plan
  • Timeline
  • Outcomes
  • Evaluation
  • Sustainability
  • Organizational Capability/Capacity
  • Credentials of Project Leaders
  • Budget and Cost Effectiveness
  • Appendices and Required Attachments

Proposal Writing Resources:

Free tutorials are available from the Foundation Center. These tutorials will introduce you to the world of foundations, proposal writing, and more.

Foundations Today Tutorial

Learn what foundations do, how they are changing, as well as where they fit in the larger philanthropic universe.

Proposal Writing Short Course

Describes how to prepare a funding proposal, including the planning, research, and cultivation of foundation and corporate donors. (Available in English, French, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish)

Proposal Budgeting Basics

The basics of developing a project budget. (Available in English and Spanish)

Government agencies also provide advice and instruction on crafting a grant proposal. The UIS Grants and Contracts Office can assist you with government applications.

A Few Quick Rules for Proposal Writing

  1. Shorter is always better.
  2. You’re asking for money. The amount the foundation offers sets limits on what you propose, so start your planning with the money.
  3. Make sure your plans match their goals. 
  4. Follow their rules for format and length.
  5. Keep access to content easy. People rarely read proposals in sequence. Use headings if possible to identify sections.
  6. Answer questions:
    • Statement of Need: Why is your project needed?
    • Goals and Objectives: What do you want to achieve?
    • Project Activities:  What are you actually going to do?
    • Evaluation plan: How will you prove that you achieved your goals?
    • Sustainability: How will you continue it after the money runs out?
    • Organizational Info: Why are you/your organization qualified to do it?
    • Budget: What do you need to be able to do it?
  7. Speak to their needs not your own (foundations care more about their goals than yours). 
  8. Be passionate about the need; communicate a sense of urgency.
  9. Shorter is better.

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