This page is meant to serve as a comprehensive guide to seeking, receiving, and implementing foundation or corporate support. The entire process—from initial contact to final decision—takes six months to a year, on average. Given the slow-moving nature of the grants, it’s best to start your funding search as early as possible. To begin, consider the following questions to determine whether you should seek funding independently or request support from CFR.

Are you seeking less than $15,000 for a program/project?

If you are seeking $15,000 or less in funding from a source that is not centrally managed, we encourage you to use the grant toolkit for support.

Are you seeking more than $15,000 for a program/project?

If you are seeking more than $15,000, please contact the CFR team for support.

There are a handful of centrally managed corporations and foundations that should only be approached for funding through Corporate and Foundation Relations, at the request of either the funder’s leadership or the University’s. These are organizations that expect funding discussions to center on institutional priorities and that, in most cases, have explicitly asked that funding requests carry the endorsement of the President and be conveyed through the Advancement office. If you wish to seek funding from an organization on this list, please contact the CFR Team.

Ideation and Concept Development

Woman writing on paper

Philanthropic foundations, corporate foundations, and charitable organizations are committed to specific missions and agendas. For example, one foundation might be focused on improving STEM education in the U.S., another might be interested in promoting educational equality, and another may be investing in implementing sustainable healthcare solutions for rural communities. Increasingly, foundations are also committed to highly specific strategies for accomplishing those missions and even specific ways of measuring impact and progress – their social “return on investment.”

As you work to develop your concept and seek potential funders, consider the following questions:

  • Need. What problem/need will your program/project address? Why is it important, and why is it important to address at this time?
  • Approach. How will you address this problem/need? What methods, tools, and approaches will you take? What distinguishes your approach from others’ working in this area?
  • Impact. What will be the outcome or impact of the project? Will its effect be felt in the MSU Denver community, in the Denver metro, statewide?
    • Who will benefit from your work? What audience will you engage in your project?
    • How will you define and evaluate the project’s success?
  • Leadership. Who will design, lead, and manage the project? Who will staff the project? Will the project require multiple funders?
    • How might you sustain the project after a foundation grant expires?
    • How will the University or institutional resources contribute to the project? Are their connections between your project and the strategic plan of the University or of your school, department, or division?

Use the Project Information Form  to help answer these questions and get feedback from the CFR team. Answer each question to the best of your ability, and CFR can help you with any you are unsure about.

Writing Letters of Inquiry

Many funders require a letter of inquiry (LOI) as a first step in the proposal process. After reviewing the applicant’s LOI, the funder will decide whether they wish to request a full proposal. Review the specific guidelines to determine if an LOI is requested/required.

An LOI should be a concise (2-3 page) but thorough presentation of the need or problem you have identified, the proposed solution, and your qualifications for implementing that solution. Like a full proposal, an LOI should include an introduction, the amount of funding requested, a statement of need and your proposed solution, a discussion of methodology/activities, a description of the organization and qualifications for undertaking this project, a list of other prospective funders for the project, and contact information for the prospective project director.

The Corporate and Foundation Relations Team can help in drafting an LOI or provide feedback on what you’ve written—please don’t hesitate to reach out for support. Please send all submitted LOIs to CFR for University Advancement record keeping.

Preparing Proposals

The Auraria Campus was bustling with students the first week of classes starting Aug. 23, 2021.

Following a favorable response to your LOI, or as a first step if an LOI isn’t required, a corporation or foundation will require a full proposal detailing the program or project you are seeking support for, including its goals, plans for implementation, potential impact, criteria for success, a budget, and various institutional documents (see Grant Attachments). For a more detailed overview, refer to the Grant Proposal Outline and Grant Proposal Sample. While most proposals follow a similar structure, some organizations have more specific requirements, which should be carefully reviewed before you draft your proposal.

The MSU Denver Organization Information for Grants, found below, , is another good place to start when seeking a grant. In addition to being a concise summary of vital information about the University, the document addresses many of the institution-wide questions commonly required in a proposal.

Philanthropic support will almost always be administered through University Advancement/MSU Denver Foundation and proposals will need to comply with the approval and submission procedures of University Advancement and the CFR team. Please send all proposals you are submitting to CFR for review and University Advancement recordkeeping. However, if there are formal research components to your proposed project/program, the proposal will need to comply with the approval and submission procedures of OSRP. You can learn more about OSRP’s work and how they differ from CFR by visiting their website.


Teacher with a group of university students, in a laboratory classroom. The instructor is considering one of the students work, the mood is light hearted and positive. Other classmates are discussing things with each other. This is a realistic teaching scenario, with candid expressions. This is a multi-ethnic group of women. In the background there is a white board with mathematical formula written on it. All ladies are wearing id tags.

Part of the proposal will likely be a budget. The budget is an important component of a proposal, as it represents a financial picture of the project. A well-crafted budget can add greatly to the grant maker’s understanding of your project. Depending on the funder’s guidelines, the budget may be a simple one-page statement of projected expenses, or an entire spreadsheet, including projected support and revenue and a detailed narrative that explains various items of expense or revenue.

When assembling your budget, please note that the Foundation requires a 6% administrative fee on all gifts received. Including this your budget ensures that is doesn’t come out of funds assigned to another expense upon reception.

Common Attachments

Foundations and corporations often require a variety of institutional documents in addition to the proposal and budget. In many cases, a cover letter from the President or senior university official will be required to accompany a proposal. We will draft and obtain signatures for these letters and can provide institutional documents that may also be requested.

Please contact the CFR Team for the following documents:

  • W9
  • 990
  • IRS 501(c)3 Letter
  • Budget
  • Current Financials
  • Audited Financials
  • Sources of Income
  • Top Contributors
  • Gifts in Kind
  • Board List
  • Equal Opportunity Statement

Manage Your Grant Award

When a grant application is successful and funds are awarded, the post-award stage begins. Spanning from receiving a grant agreement to sending a final report, effective post-award management is crucial in ensuring grant funds are effectively spent and, for recurring grants, successful reapplication in the future. For awards above $15,000 or those granted by a Centrally Managed Entity, a member of the CFR team will reach out to schedule a post-award meeting to review the terms of your grant and the resources CFR offers to aid you in this process, including a Post-Award Action Summary and Microsoft Planner page.

Those who are awarded funds without the assistance of CFR and would like support are encouraged to explore the CFR Post-Award FAQ, found below, which addresses many of the common questions covered in post-award meetings.

Contact the CFR Team

Zac Tardiff

Zacary Tardiff

Executive Director, Corporate and Foundation Relations

[email protected] 303-605-7742
Joshua Harris

Joshua Harris

Corporate and Foundation Relations Manager

[email protected] 303-605-7768
Mandy Malachowski

Mandy Malachowski

Director of Development, Foundation Relations

[email protected]
Tori Meyers

Tori Meyers

Interim Director of Grants

[email protected] 303-605-3651
Ally Veneris headshot

Ally Veneris

Director of Development, Corporate Relations

[email protected] TBD