​How We Can Help

Staff members
​Foundation Relations provides assistance throughout the four continuous stages of fundraising: prospect identification, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship. Foundation Relations staff work closely with faculty, providing support on an “as needed” and “as requested” basis. While some faculty may find it helpful to access all the services we offer, other faculty, especially those who have foundation fundraising experience, may only need some of the services. In addition to working with faculty, we work directly with university leaders to raise funds for university initiatives and school priorities.

Prospect Identification


Young Investigator Program



Prospect Identification

Researching foundations

Foundation Relations can provide information on which certain foundations may be funding a particular field of interest. Staff members are able to provide information such as a foundation’s assets, giving history, programs, staffing and relationship with Washington University.

Developing concept papers

It may be helpful to consult with a Foundation Relations staff member when developing a concept paper. Staff members will provide suggestions on how to make the project compelling.

Guidance on foundation process

The process of seeking support from private foundations is very different from the one used for government grants. The private grant process varies from foundation to foundation and can take many months of determined effort. Knowing what to expect can often make the difference between failure and success.

Review/analysis of guidelines

Guidelines often contain fundraising and scholarly nuances. Our staff can help faculty assess the guidelines and vice versa, to better gauge the likelihood of a project being funded and what strategies may further increase; that likelihood.

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Strategy for approaching

Should you submit an on-line letter of inquiry, call the foundation’s program officer or seek a meeting? There are many ways to approach a foundation. We can help you decide which approach is best for your project considering the foundation’s process and relationship with Washington University.

Site visits/Conference calls

Our staff can help plan and manage visits to a foundation or foundation staff visits to Washington University.; We can also help initiate, organize and prepare for conference calls with foundation staff.

Submission of concept papers

Some foundations accept unsolicited concept papers or letters of inquiry, while other foundations require an invitation typically extended after an initial discussion.

We can help draft, edit and proof concept papers to make them as compelling as possible.

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Clearance from Foundation Relations prior to submitting a full proposal to a private foundation may be required by your school. Click here to view information regarding the clearance process for each of the schools. If a foundation limits the number of proposals from a single institution, an internal selection process takes place in advance of the deadline. Click here to view information about the process for submitting your proposal for this internal competition.

Solicitation strategies

Many questions arise when soliciting a foundation. Should you seek multi-year funding? Should you seek funding from more than one foundation at a time? Should you request a planning grant initially and a larger grant later? Foundation Relations staff can help you develop the best strategy for your project.

Proposals and letters of inquiry

Foundation Relations staff will help draft, edit and proof proposals and letters of inquiry. The staff will also provide helpful advice about content, guideline adherence, writing style and presentation format.

Institutional letters of support.

Foundation Relations will assist in preparing and obtaining signatures for letters to a foundation from the chancellor, provost, deans or external stakeholders.

Developing “ask” amounts

The “ask” amount should align with the work scope and anticipated impact, as well as the giving capacity of the foundation. Foundation Relations staff can offer counsel on an ask amount.

Proposal submissions

Foundation Relations staff can help draft, edit, and proof proposals.; We can also provide general organizational information and school-specific facts, gather required attachments and perform electronic submittals.

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Stewardship should not be overlooked when it comes to foundation fundraising. Foundations are eager to track the results from and compliance with their funding.


Sharing both the good and the not-so-good news with the foundation can make the difference between one-time funding and a long, strong funding relationship. Formal progress reports may be required. Financial reporting helps the foundation determine if the funds are being used as intended. Expending the funds according to the planned schedule demonstrates to the foundation that its funding is at work on the specified project.

Required reporting

Foundations typically require periodic reports on the supported activity and a final report at the conclusion of the grant. The faculty member is responsible for submitting all reports. It is imperative that these reports be prepared and submitted on time. If a report is missing, a foundation may withhold subsequent payments or decline to fund new proposals from the university. Foundation Relations staff members can send faculty reminders regarding due dates and are available to edit and proof reports.

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Proposal Writing Resources

Proposal, grants, contracts resources at Washington University

Proposal checklist

Proposal Writing Guide

Writing persuasive proposals

The Foundation Center short course

Art of Grantsmanship

The following resources are accessible to the Washington University community. (WUSTL Key authentication required):

Private Funding Sources, our on-line catalog of biomedical research funding opportunities. Previous grant recipients from Washington University are listed for foundations that offer career-development awards for new investigators.

Internal Competitions, our online website, provides up-to-date information about biomedical research award competitions for which the foundation restricts institutions to a limited number of applicants. Internal review deadlines and internal review status are posted. A section for federal agencies is also included.

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Grants for Young Investigators

Find funders that target their programs especially to young investigators and get one-on-one help from the foundation relations directors.

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