University of Massachusetts Amherst

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What are foundations looking for in a proposal?

Here are some general common attributes of "fundable" projects:

  • They have a beginning, middle and end (or a credible plan for sustainability after the grant.)
  • They have a clearly defined goal directly tied to one of the foundation's expressed interests.
  • They commit to providing measurable results. For example, training 100 farmers in Central Africa in sustainable agriculture practices, resulting in 500 acres under sustainable cultivation, as opposed to holding a conference at which experts discuss world hunger solutions.

It is important to create answers to these questions about your project:

  • What social, educational or research question will you address?
  • What will change as a result of your proposed work?
  • How much will it change? (a standard of measurement that makes sense given the problem addressed)
  • How will you know? (How will your work be evaluated?)
  • Foundations do not often fund ongoing budget needs, endowments, conferences, and the production of videos or media. There are exceptions to every rule. If you know of one, please let our office know.