The University of Michigan

Frequently Asked Questions

For Funders
  • What types of funders does Foundation Relations work with?
    Foundation Relations staff work with professional foundations, community foundations and family foundations alike. The Foundation Relations staff also works closely with UM staff in Corporate Relations to meet the needs of corporate foundations. The Corporate Relations staff is based out of UM’s new Business Engagement Center:
  • Can I connect directly with faculty members?
    If you already know which faculty are doing work that your foundation supports, you are more than welcome to contact our researchers directly. If you do not know who to connect with at our large University, we would welcome the opportunity to talk to you about how your priorities fit with University of Michigan initiatives.
  • Why is the University of Michigan’s federally negotiated rate for facilities and administrative costs 54.5%?
    Indirect cost rates are negotiated between a “lead” federal agency and the University. These charges include many costs that most of us would consider “direct” costs of a project (supplies, computers, space, administrative support), as well as costs that we’d agree might be indirects (university administrative leadership, utilities, grant administration, depreciation). All proposals to federal agencies leave out these direct expenses as well as indirects, and use the negotiated rate instead.
  • Does the University of Michigan require foundations to cover overhead or indirect expenses?
    It is not uncommon for foundations to offer limited indirect or overhead (10-20%), and we are sensitive to each foundation’s budget policies. Frequently, we can work with a faculty member to budget more of the direct costs associated with a project and meet the foundation’s needs as well as college costs.
For Faculty, Staff and Students
  • How can Foundation Relations help with the proposal process?
    Foundation Relations staff help grant seekers throughout the proposal process – from identifying prospects to developing strategic proposals and negotiating budgets.
  • What is an RFP?
    A Request For Proposal (RFP) is a written solicitation/announcement, distributed by funders, that alerts grant seekers to the funding requirements of specific projects, calls for entries, programs, etc.
  • How far in advance of a project should I apply for grant funding?
    Although each foundation has its own process, many foundations will require 6 months to a year to review a full proposal and make a funding decision. While some foundations review proposals as they are received, others have several board meetings each year during which they make funding decisions.
  • How do I approach a foundation about receiving a grant for my project?
    Since each foundation has its own imbedded processes, read the foundation’s website carefully. Many foundations require a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) before they will invite a full proposal. An LOI is one to two pages, and briefly describes the project, the funding need, and how the project intersects with the foundation’s interests.
  • What is the difference between a “managed” foundation and a “coordinated” foundation?
    Since the University of Michigan is large and decentralized, the foundation relations staff works to gather as much information on a foundation as possible. Fundraisers across the University, and particularly on the foundation relations staff, have certain foundations for which they are responsible for tracking. There are a limited number of foundations that are considered “managed,” meaning all U-M interaction with that foundation must first go through the prospect manager. In most instances, foundations are “coordinated,” meaning that the foundation has a U-M prospect manager who may be of assistance as you seek funding, and we ask that you keep the prospect manager informed of proposals, but you are not required to speak to that manager before interacting with the foundation.
    Please click HERE to download a list of both managed and coordinated foundations.
  • I usually do federal proposals. How are foundation budgets different?
    Many foundation funders require pre-proposals, which are brief descriptions of the proposed project, and generally do not include full budgets, timelines, supporting letters, or curricula vitae. Pre-proposals are a way for the foundation to determine whether they are interested in inviting a full proposal.

    Each foundation has its own set of allowable and unallowable budget items, so be aware of your prospective funder’s regulations when preparing a budget. Foundation budgets do not carry the federally negotiated indirect rate, but you will find that many of the items that are counted as indirect costs in a government grant are direct costs in a foundation grant, such as supplies, computers, space, and administrative support. It is important to know whether the foundation to which you are applying allows you to build indirect costs such as utilities, grant administration, and depreciation into your budget. Generally, if a foundation does provide indirect costs to a project, they are capped at 10-20%. Just like federal proposals, most foundation budgets require budget justifications.
  • Do I use the eResearch path for submitting a foundation proposal?
    Yes, in most cases the eResearch system (administered by DRDA) is the correct way to submit a foundation proposal. If you have any questions about whether to use the eResearch system for a certain donor or proposal, please call or email us.
  • When don’t I need to use the eResearch system to submit my proposal?
    Generally, the only proposals that do not need to flow through eResearch are if you are asking for funding for one of the following:
    • Capital projects
    • Building
    • Scholarship support


Contact Us





The Office of Foundation Relations, 3003 South State Street, Suite 8000, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1288

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