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How to Get Started

Foundations usually focus on solving specific societal problems, and fund programs or projects that closely match their respective goals. Review the foundation website for its specific funding areas. If your project is not a close match, find another funder.

VU flagHave a clear understanding of your project.

  • What are your specific research objectives?
  • What is the timeline for your project?
  • Who will be doing the work?
  • What will be the total project cost?
  • Are the resources you need available?
  • Will internal funding be needed?
  • How will you evaluate your project?
  • Will your project be sustainable?
  • What will be the impact of success?

Pay close attention to:

  • The funder's goals
  • Deadlines (Vanderbilt's internal deadlines as well as the funder's)
  • Application guidelines
  • Descriptions of recently awarded grants

Obtain Approval

What internal questions do I need to answer before proceeding?

  • Ask your department chair and school dean if the project aligns with department, school or university priorities. Foundations rarely provide funding for indirect (overhead) costs.
  • Will your department provide additional funding to cover indirect costs? If not, how will these costs be covered?
  • Will there be cost sharing with other Vanderbilt collaborators?
  • Who are they and do you have their commitment?

Finding Foundation Funders

The Corporate and Foundation Relations team can help you identify corporations and corporate foundations that would be a good match for your programs and projects.

The following links can aid in your funding search:

Vanderbilt Introduction to Pivot Tutorial
Foundation Center
Foundation Directory
Research Professional
Vanderbilt Library
Vanderbilt Limited Submission Opportunities

It is good practice to look at which foundations are funding your peers at other institutions.

Please contact the Foundation Relations team to ensure project coordination.

Submitting a Proposal

Vanderbilt University has specific guidelines for proposal approvals and leadership signatures, including signatures for the Vice Chancellor of Heath Affairs and the Provost.

Be sure to contact the Foundation Relations team to ensure that your project is coordinated with other Vanderbilt efforts.

Building a Relationship with a Foundation

  •  Volunteer on committees.
  • Keep in touch with program officers.
  • Volunteer as a keynote speaker at conferences.
  • Let the Corporate and Foundation Relations team know of any relationship you have with foundations, committees, peer institutions, etc. This information allows us to make valuable connections which can aid in the funding process.