Virginia Tech’s Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations helps faculty members and students capitalize on the private sector’s substantial support for worthy causes. Corporations and foundations gave $14.4 billion to colleges and universities in 2012, up 5 percent from 2011, according to the Council for Aid to Education.
Our office connects faculty members with donors who may have an interest in supporting their work. If seeking funding, a good first step is to contact the giving officer assigned to your field. He or she will help you prepare an effective fundraising strategy.
Before identifying a potential supporter, it is essential to define your project's scope and how long the project will take, as well as your planned results and the resources you will realistically need.
Our officers are here to assist you with this process and identify the possible strategies to fund your project. We perform prospect research and scope enhancement, and we also act as a broker in leveraging resources for a philanthropic outcome.
Initial contact with a foundation is often made through a 1-3 page letter of inquiry. For a corporation, the initial inquiry may differ, based on what relationship with the company already exists, but ultimately a letter of inquiry is the formal start of a request.
An important aspect of this process that is sometimes overlooked is university-wide coordination, which we seek to provide. Larger funding opportunities require limited submissions in order to prevent our contacts from being flooded with requests.
The quickest way funding organizations weed out inadequate submissions is with application requirements.Our project proposal guideline outlines materials that are often required. The guideline can be downloaded below. We can provide you with the materials it lists, or help you obtain any atypical materials that may be requested.Project Proposal Guideline (PDF | 58KB)
A good resource for additional information on private research support is the Virginia Tech Sponsored Matrix for Private Research Funding (MS Word).
How much can I apply for?
Amounts vary based on a funder’s capacity, a project’s need, how well a project meets a supporter's objectives, and how much impact a project will have. A gift can range up to millions. The Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations is a major gifts group, and will only participate in solicitations exceeding $25,000. If your project is less than $25,000, we still encourage you to contact us to determine how we can help.
How long does it take to learn if my proposal has been funded?
Foundations typically make decisions at board meetings, which tend to occur from one to four times per year. Corporations can make decisions more quickly, but how long they take does vary greatly depending on their pre-existing relationship with Virginia Tech, market forces, how much funding they have already committed, and other factors. We can help you establish an appropriate schedule for the fundraising part of your project timeline.
What types of gifts are available?
Cash or gifts-in-kind, such as equipment, software, consumables, and real-estate.
What is the difference between a gift and a grant?
Funding organizations sometimes use the terms interchangeably, but there are differences, which are outlined in VT policy 3030 (PDF).
What funding opportunities are appropriate?
Foundations tend to support programs and help with general operating costs that advance curriculum, build economic prosperity, or address a societal problem. Capital support, financial aid, and research is supported, but with fewer dollars and less often.
Corporations tend to fund programs that prepare future employee candidates, remedy a community problem, or support a client’s interests. For research, corporations tend to sponsor projects with deliverable outcomes, and may be interested in ownership if there will be a market opportunity.
The Office of Sponsored Programs has Virginia Tech guidelines for private research funding available to download (MS Word).
What is the Virginia Tech Foundation and how is it involved in my funding opportunity?
The Virginia Tech Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, was established in 1948 to receive, manage, and disburse private gifts in support of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University programs. Visit the foundation website for more information.
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