For an overview of how to work with us, please refer to the CFR Handbook.
CFR is a unit within William & Mary’s Office of University Advancement tasked with helping faculty and staff further the university’s mission by building philanthropic partnerships with corporations and foundations. We work across the entire spectrum of William & Mary — Arts & Sciences, Education, Law, Business, VIMS, W&M Libraries, the Muscarelle Museum of Art, and the Reves Center for International Studies — helping faculty and staff develop their grant applications to maximize their chances for success.
CFR assists with private giving that comes from corporations and foundations. The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) assists with public giving, which comes from state or federal governments and includes entities such as the National Science Foundation, the Department of Education, the National Institutes of Health and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The following policy outlines when you should work with CFR and OSP.
Policy on Designation of Funds as Donation/Gift or Grant/Sponsored Program
For assistance with private giving from alumni and other individuals, please contact your dean’s office.
Foundations tend to support research and projects that demonstrate excellence in an academic field, address a societal problem, and/or have a broad or scalable impact. Capital needs and general operations are less frequently supported.
Corporations tend to fund programs that prepare future employee candidates (also known as “workforce development”) or remedy a problem in the communities in which they operate. In terms of research, corporations tend to sponsor projects with deliverable outcomes, and they may be interested in ownership of the deliverables if there is a market opportunity as a result of the project.
Corporations and foundations can also sponsor in-kind gifts, such as equipment.
Our office works with faculty and staff to identify potential funders, define the scope and length of projects and determine expected outcomes and the resources needed to accomplish the project’s goals. We may have a corporation or foundation contact whom we can approach on your behalf to determine if your project has a good chance of being funded.
Our primary duties include assisting with research on potential funders, project definition and proposal development and editing. We can help you align your grant proposal with the university’s strategic priorities as well as with the funder’s initiatives. We will help you create a reasonable budget in support of your project (if needed); develop a compelling cover letter (if needed); submit the final proposal (whether online or by mail/email); and work with you on completing and submitting any required reports for your successful grant. If necessary, we can also help you draft an acknowledgement letter.
For more information on how CFR can assist with your proposal, see the CFR Handbook.
The amount varies based on the funder’s capacity, your project’s needs, how well your project meets the funder’s priorities and how much impact your project will have. Grants can range from a few thousand dollars up to several hundred thousand dollars. Due to limited staff capacity, CFR typically only participates in solicitations exceeding $50,000. If your project is seeking less than $50,000, we still encourage you to contact us to determine how we can assist you, particularly if there is the potential for larger grants for this project or research in the future. We may be able to suggest other funders for you to pursue as well. We also support applications for in-kind gifts, such as science equipment and computers.
It usually takes between six months and a year to obtain private grant funding. Foundations typically make decisions at board meetings, which can occur from one to four times per year. The timeline for corporate giving can vary greatly based on any pre-existing relationship with the university, market forces and how much funding the corporation has already committed for the year.
If you know of a corporation or foundation that you would like to approach for funding, please let us know. We can provide initial prospect research to determine if your project is a good fit for the funder. We can also offer guidance on ways to match your project to the funder’s priorities or help you to find a funder whose priorities better match your project’s goals. In addition, CFR can help you identify ways in which collaboration with similarly-aligned faculty might net funding for your project.
Initial contact with a foundation is often made through a 1-3 page letter of inquiry (LOI). A well-written LOI can be crucial for moving your project to the full proposal stage. The LOI should be brief (usually three pages maximum, or follow any LOI guidelines provided by the funder) and must be a succinct but thorough presentation of your project. An LOI is the formal start of most grant applications.
The first way funders weed out inadequate proposals is with application requirements. Requirements may include items such as William & Mary’s letter of tax-exempt status or a list of board members. We can provide you with these materials or help you obtain any other documents that may be requested.
For more information on the process for applying for private support, see the CFR Handbook.
The clearance list includes organizations that CFR may be in the process of approaching for institutional support. Some of these organizations do not allow multiple proposals from the same university. If you wish to contact one of these funders, we ask that you let us know ahead of time so that we can coordinate our efforts. We know many of these organizations well and may be able to provide advice on your proposal, while working in collaboration with the Office of Sponsored Programs.