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Office of the Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement

frequently asked questions

Q. I have an idea for a project that seems appropriate for private foundation funding. What should I do next?

A. Your first step is to speak with your department chairperson and your advancement office about your ideas, whether they fit with department priorities, and how to carry them forward. You can begin conducting research on your own using campus resources like the list of foundation funders on our website and the Illinois Researcher Information Service (IRIS). This will give you a preliminary idea of which funders might be interested in your proposed project. Once you have reviewed and identified potential foundations for your project, please contact our office, phone, 217-265-5322, or e-mail to set up a face-to-face or telephone meeting to discuss next steps.

Q. How can I stay informed about Requests for Proposals offered by foundations?

A. A good way to stay informed about RFPs is to subscribe to The Foundation Center’s weekly RFP bulletin. Our office is also monitoring foundations for RFPs on an ongoing basis. Please see our Current Grant Opportunities page on our website.

Q. Should I obtain approval from your office before contacting a prospective foundation funder?

A. Our office will need to be notified about foundation proposals requesting $100,000 or more. However, notifying our office and/or your unit’s advancement officer that you plan to submit a proposal for any amount to a foundation is always appreciated.

Q. I have already written a proposal and I have a contact in a foundation. May I apply on my own or do I still need to get internal approvals from my department head, dean, etc.?

A. You will need to submit your proposal through the Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Administration (OSPRA), as you would with any other proposal, and provide the required documentation. As stated above, foundation proposals requesting $100,000 also need approval from the Office of Foundation Relations.

Q. I am partnering with colleagues at another institution. Can your office still help me?

A. We can assist with foundation proposals that will benefit the University of Illinois, either as the primary applicant or subawardee.

Q. Do you provide assistance with proposals to government agencies?

A. Our services extend only to those applying to private foundation funders.

Q. Can I apply to a foundation that another faculty member or unit is applying to? How are multiple submissions handled?

A. Many foundations accept multiple submissions from the same institution. However, to be strategic and as effective as possible in our approaches, we sometimes need to prioritize proposal submissions. By having applicants contact our office, we can manage the submission process when necessary. Foundation relations professionals actively manage the campus relationship with some 40 foundations, including proposal submissions. To find out whether the foundation you are targeting is one of them, please contact our office by phone, 265-5322, or by email.

Certain foundation funding opportunities permit only one proposal submission per institution. In those cases, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research manages a limited submissions process through which a campus committee reviews preproposals and selects the submission that will go forward from the University. Limited submissions competitions have a campus deadline, earlier than the agency deadline, which is posted in the IRIS database. A link to the list of limited submissions competitions is available on the OVCR web page.

Q. I would like to approach a corporation for funding. Can your office help me with that?

A. Our office works exclusively with private foundations. Please contact the Office of Corporate Relations to inquire about approaching corporations for support.

Q. Do foundation funders pay Facilities and Administrative costs (overhead) for projects they fund?

A. Many foundations do not support F&A charges or pay a reduced rate. Typically University of Illinois applicants need to get a statement of the foundation’s overhead policy in writing in order to obtain a waiver of the full rate.

Q. What is the Annual Foundation Philanthropy Seminar?

A. The annual seminar provides an opportunity for our campus community to hear from foundation representatives who can share valuable information about their foundation’s priorities and decision-making processes, as well as overall trends in philanthropy. The seminar is open to all interested faculty, administrators, and advancement officers. Over the past several years we’ve had speakers from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Click here for information about our next seminar.

Q. Does your office offer training on working with foundations?

A. We offer training sessions on how to work with foundations, how to conduct research to identify funders, and how to prepare proposals. We offer both open sessions for faculty and staff as well as sessions tailored to a specific unit’s needs upon request. See our workshops page for more information.

Q. Where are you located?

Our office is located on the 5th floor of the Swanlund Administration Building in Champaign.

Our U.S. mail address is:
Office of Foundation Relations
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
601 E. John Street
504 Swanlund Administration Building
Champaign, IL 61820

Our campus mail address is:
504 Swanlund Administration Building
MC - 304