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Foundations And Sponsored Programs

How CFR Can Help You

Our goal is to help simplify and standardize the submission process to ensure successful grant applications. We strive to assist all pursuing external funding. Depending upon institutional priority and resource availability, CFR can:

  • Assist in matching projects and programs with private funding sources
  • Work with you to develop and/or implement strategic fundraising plans
  • Provide information, advice, consultation and resources on grant-seeking and proposal development
  • Share information about corporations and foundations on file in CFR
  • Inform you about requests for proposals (RFP) in your field
  • Review and edit grant proposals
  • Facilitate the submission of proposals, including gathering required supporting documents about Bentley, and preparing and shepherding cover letters through institutional channels
  • Assist in concept and proposal development and writing
  • Meet with potential funders to discuss your project or program
  • Assist in identifying alumni and friends to participate in selected Bentley programs


Working in Collaboration

We don't claim to have all the answers and therefore need to work with you collaboratively. You can partner with Corporate and Foundation Relations in a number of ways:

  • Helping us maintain information about corporations, foundations and other organizations. Let us know about your visits with donors (on or off campus), proposal submissions, and organizational changes. These updates enrich our body of knowledge, and strengthen the college's ability to promote its strategic goals.
  • Contacting us regarding potential donors. In some cases, we may have important information to share with you about the organization's preferences or about other college activity that may conflict with - or bolster -- your proposal. While we encourage grant-seeking activity by members of the Bentley community, it is in our best interest to show a coordinated effort and to send a unified message in our relations with corporations and foundations.
  • By being conscientious regarding donor requests for progress reports, final reports, and other deliverables. Such attention to stewardship promotes positive relationships and goodwill on the part of the donor. Also, please send us copies of your reports if we are not involved in their development.


CFR Staff 
Anna Biller, Director, Corporate Relations (x2254)
Paul Carberry, Director, Foundation Relations (x2009)
Susan Richman, Director, Sponsored Programs (x2660)

Corporate & Foundations Relations and the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP)
CFR and OSP complement each other, with CFR primarily responsible for coordinating corporate and foundation grant-seeking and OSP responsible for coordinating government grant-seeking.  We work as a team to communicate with one another to increase your potential for successfully submitting a proposal.


Approaching Potential Funders and Applying for Grants
Foundations, corporate giving programs, and other organizations often have written guidelines. Before contacting potential funders about a concept, research the organization (see "Identifying Potential Funders") and identify their preference for communication. Many organizations prefer letters of inquiry. Some make their guidelines very public and expect a full proposal or concept paper as initial contact. Others will accept telephone or email communication.

The Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations and Office of Sponsored Programs have subscriptions to online directories that provide information on approaching potential donors. Many organizations have websites that answer these questions as well. (See "Fundraising Links" to get started.)

Grant-seeking Through CFR and OSP
Out of necessity, the Offices of Corporate and Foundation Relations and Sponsored Programs place great focus on those projects that are supportive of institutional strategies as defined by the Board of Trustees, president, and the cabinet. However, we believe every proposal deserves some level of consultation, be it telephone consultation about prospect research and approach, reviewing a proposal, or serving as primary writer for a proposal.

If you'd like to submit a proposal through CFR, contact either Paul Carberry (x2009) or Anna Biller (x2254). 

If you'd like to submit a proposal through OSP, please contact Susan Richman at (x2660).   

Proposal Format


Most corporate giving programs and foundations include proposal requirements in their guidelines. No matter the length of the proposal, it should be clear and concise. In many cases, funders will have specific instructions about presentation. However, if the guidelines you've received do not specify a proposal format, CFR recommends the following key components:


Cover Letter. Very briefly introduces program and sponsoring organization, with the actual "ask" (requested amount for funding and descriptive phrase specifying purpose) appearing early in the letter.

Executive Summary. A one- to two-page brief, covering the main points and sections of the proposal-particularly the five Ws and H.

Need Statement. Sometimes part of the Main Narrative section, the Need Statement describes the unfulfilled service or area that the project/program will address. This is an opportunity to discuss what others accomplished and if any organization is currently running a similar project/program. Identify the population to be served. Show that you know the field or topic area and have done your homework.

Main Narrative. This details the five Ws and H, focusing as well on goals, expected outcomes, and often tasks or specified action steps. An effective way to approach writing this section is to begin with the general description, stating the overall goals, and briefly referring to the population to be served. Then describe the specific project/program goals followed by expected outcomes and tasks, writing these last two sections in the same order as the goals. This way you clearly link each goal with an outcome and related tasks.

Distinction is important in this section. Describe how the project/program is different or unique (does it include an overlooked population, is the service unavailable in this region, is it the next step in development of a profession, etc.). Consider timeliness, scope, impact, originality and innovation.

Evaluation. How will success of the program and its achievement of desired outcomes be measured? Make sure that the project/program has the staff and resources to conduct the proposed evaluation, whether it's a survey, individual interviews, focus groups, skill assessment, or another method. Samples of surveys, interview questions, and other materials can serve as a valuable appendix. How will Bentley report to the funder (i.e., quarterly, annually, etc.)?

Dissemination. Sharing results is often important to corporations and foundations that invest in Bentley. Dissemination offers the ability to show the value of the project/program, and offers the opportunity to contribute to the body of knowledge in the specified field or topic area. This evidence also increases Bentley's ability to leverage its assets when pursuing other grants and partnerships for faculty, staff and campus-wide initiatives. Consider a report, scholarly article, conference presentation, or guidebook for other similar organizations.

Capacity Statement. The Capacity Statement introduces the organization in more detail, and outlines its ability to meet stated goals. Often at Bentley, this includes a brief description of the college, a description of the department (if not in an earlier section), and a description of how the program fits into Bentley's overall mission and priorities. This is also the area where staff are described, and unfilled but important positions identified. Resumes, CVs and job descriptions should appear in an appendix.

Budget Narrative. A detailed budget that explains expenditures and expected revenues is a crucial component of any proposal. This is an opportunity to illustrate institutional contributions to the budgets, justify unusual expenditures, and demonstrate fiscal suitability through planning. The budget itself usually appears in an appendix.

Appendices. Appendices include various documents depending upon the proposal type and funder. Some funders do not require appendices, or specify a few specific items and discourage the addition of more appendices. The most common appendices in CFR proposals are: certificate of exemption, list of trustees, audited financial statement, projected financial statement, project/program budget, resumes and CVs, and cultivation material samples.

Style and Physical Format. While redundancy should be avoided, repeat key information that may be lost within the narrative. Technical terms and jargon can confuse readers who aren't as familiar with them, and can significantly detract from proposals. A simple and concise yet varied vocabulary is best. Use spell check liberally, and have someone else proofread the proposal. Familiarity sometimes leads to missing small mistakes.

Bad formatting can detract from the best, most thorough proposal. Make reading as simple as possible by using at least 1.5 line spacing, a serif font such as Times or Palatino, point 11 or 12 text size, clear and organized headers, page numbers, and one-inch margins. Also, avoid special binding so that the proposal will be easy to photocopy and share within the funding organization.


Identifying Potential Funders

When CFR is seeking prospects, we conduct a research scan of potential funding sources. Here are some of the key questions to address when you investigate potential donors:

1. Does Bentley fall within the corporate/foundation giving guidelines?

  • Investigate sources such as the Foundation Center Online, Guidestar, and the organization's website to find Internet-based information (see "Fundraising Links"). If the information online is not adequate, contact CFR to see if we have a copy of their guidelines. If you need to request the guidelines, please send a copy to CFR when you receive them.
  • Are there geographic limitations (e.g., no funding in New England, or only funding in western Massachusetts, or only funding in areas where the business operates)?
  • Is the organization generally interested in higher education? If not, would your project still fall within the fields or programming areas that interest the organization (e.g., promoting free enterprise, pre-collegiate programs, or integrating technology and culture)?
  • Is the organization only interested in liberal arts institutions or research universities?
  • Is the organization more interested in assisting with the start-up of programs that will be self-sustainable, or is the organization interested in general programmatic projects?
  • What other similar organizations have been supported by the organization? Are there any strong affiliations between the donor and a grantee that indicate a level of exclusivity (e.g., did the foundation board chairman attend a university that regularly receives grants; does a board member also serve on the board of a local agency that regularly receives grants)? Are the awarded grants consistent with their guidelines?

2. What is the range of giving and will other sources of support be required?

3. Does Bentley have a history with the donor?

  • Consult with CFR to determine if the college is currently engaged in pursuit, a partnership, or funding relationship, and how this may affect solicitation of the corporation or foundation.
  • Has the corporation or foundation rejected past Bentley proposals? Why?
  • Are there specific ways in which the donor and Bentley interact?
  • What is the organization's giving history with the college and what does it usually support?

4. Is the address and contact information you have correct?

5. How does the corporation or foundation prefer to be approached?

  • Correspondence only?
  • Email messages or phone calls are allowed?

6. Does your project/program have the infrastructure capacity to comply with evaluation, reporting and activity requirements?


Bentley Policies 

Policy on Grant Stewardship and Maintenance
Stewardship and conscientious management of grants and donations is essential to maintaining and deepening relationships with organizations that invest in Bentley. This includes prompt acknowledgements of grants and donations, assigning and using specific campus account numbers for grants, punctual submission of reports, appropriate updates and courtesy mailings, and invitations to special events. Failure to carefully manage donor relationships can result in loss of future funding opportunities with the specific donor and other potential funding sources.

The Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations is not only responsible for securing gifts, but communicating with donors about our management of their support. We need your help to provide this information. Our stewardship is only as good as the information received from project directors.

For both legal and practical reasons, it is the policy of Bentley University to assign grants to special accounts, and to allocate restricted gifts to the appropriate new or current account. Project managers are expected to use these funds for project-related expenditures at the time of payment, including salaries and campus services. "Backfilling," transferring expenses at the end of the funding period rather than spending as appropriate through the year, is not acceptable, nor is any misappropriation of funds.


Gift Processing
For legal reasons related to IRS regulations, grants and gifts to the college must be processed through the Office of Development. To process corporate and foundation awards accurately, CFR must receive the following information:

  • name, company and contact information for acknowledgement and gift-related communications
  • purpose of award
  • confirmation of date of receipt
  • BANNER allocation number
  • original check and copies of accompanying correspondence for monetary gifts
  • documentation of market value and of educational discount rates of in-kind gifts (non-monetary donations such as training, support/technical assistance, software and hardware)

Once CFR has received the documentation, it is sent to gift processing. Once the gift is processed, the award is credited to the appropriate BANNER account. In addition, the development officer assigned to the award or donor produces an acknowledgement letter from the college that confirms receipt of the donation and thanks the donor. Letters are often sent from project directors and the president as well.


Fundraising Links

Association of Small Foundations

Associated Grantmakers of Massachusetts

BIG Online  - A comprehensive database that profiles approximately 25,000 foundations, corporate donors, matching gift programs, in kind donations and government grant makers.  

The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University - The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University increases the understanding of philanthropy and improves its practice through programs in research, teaching, public service, and public affairs.

The CharityChannel: WeReview - Read reviews and link to ordering information for fundraising books.

The Chronicle of Higher Education: New Grant and Research Competitions - The highlights are open to everyone, but searches require a subscriber's password.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy

Community of Science, Inc. (COS) - brings together the world's most prominent scientists and researchers at more than 1,300 universities, corporations and government agencies worldwide, and provides tools and services that enable these professionals to communicate, exchange information and find the people and technologies that are important to their work.

Council for Advancement and Support of Education 

Council on Foundations

The Foundation Center - includes links to private, family and corporate donors.

Foundations On-Line - Browse the directory, pick a listed foundation, search any organization's information page or search any organization's home page.

Funders Online - allows grant-seekers to search Europe's online philanthropic community. They also offer two online newsletters.

Grantmakers Evaluation Network - "how to" resources on evaluation. - Federal website where all current grant opportunities are announced.

GrantsNet - a resource to find funds for training in the biomedical sciences and undergraduate science education. Through the support of HHMI and AAAS, this service is completely free. 

GuideStar - GuideStar is a searchable database of more than 640,000 nonprofit organizations in the United States.

Harvard College Baker Library Industry Guide: Nonprofits, Government and Education

Hoovers - Information on thousands of public companies.

Idealist - Looking for community partners? See Idealist's extensive listing on nonprofit organizations by country and state.

Independent Sector - A diverse collection of more than one million charitable, educational, religious, health, and social welfare organizations.

Innovation Network - assistance in developing evaluation plans.

The Morino Institute - created in 1994 to explore both the opportunities and risks of the Internet, and the New Economy it has fueled, to our society. The Institute works to understand how the Internet can be used to benefit society, empower organizations and individuals and create opportunity. 

National Science Foundation   - Lists all open funding opportunities.  

Nonprofit Sector Research Fund - The Nonprofit Sector Research Fund awards research grants and organizes convenings to expand knowledge of the nonprofit sector and philanthropy, improve nonprofit practices, and inform public policy related to nonprofits. Established at The Aspen Institute in 1991, the Fund seeks to enhance both the quantity and quality of nonprofit research by increasing the legitimacy and visibility of nonprofit scholarship; encouraging new investments in sector research; supporting the exploration of tough, neglected questions and enlarging the number of creative scholars and practitioners interested in pursuing nonprofit studies.

ScienceWise Corporate - A workplace for science and engineering professionals, ScienceWise provides industry information on funding sources, teaming opportunities, products, and services tailored to your specific needs. There are free and "for fee" membership options.

SPIN Search - Operated by InfoEd International, SPIN currently contains information from more than 1,200 different sponsoring agencies, which together fund over 10,000 separate funding opportunities.

WingsWeb - International network of organizations that support grantmakers.