News and Events

Foundations and Corporations: Worth a Look

This article was originally printed in the March 2006 issue of CLASnotes.

Kim Taylor Kim Taylor

Kim Taylor is the new Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. In this newly created position, Taylor will work with faculty members to find corporate and foundation sources of funding and assist with the grant writing process. Her office is located in the UF Foundation Building with other members of the CLAS Development Office.

Taylor earned her master’s degree in mass communication from UF in August 2005 and also holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Smith College. She has worked as a biological scientist with UF’s College of Medicine and also served as associate director of corporate and foundation relations at the UF Foundation.

You’ve probably heard about private foundations funding academic research. You might have a colleague who received a grant from a heavy-hitter like the Ford Foundation. Maybe you’ve thought about looking into this whole “foundations thing” yourself but keep getting tied up with other obligations. No longer must faculty fly solo in their pursuit of foundation funding. In February, the college created a new position designed to help faculty find and secure funds from foundations and corporations.

Although fundraising efforts often revolve around soliciting individuals, foundations and corporations should not be overlooked. Last year, foundations and corporations gave $11.4 billion to higher education—44.5 percent of overall giving—according to the Council for Aid to Education’s “Voluntary Support of Education” survey.

Corporate and foundation funding can appeal to faculty for a number of reasons. One advantage is that their applications usually require less time than those of government funding agencies. For example, most foundations rely on pre-proposals to gauge whether an applicant fits with their interests, inviting only those applicants who fit the bill to submit full proposals. This process helps ensure that faculty members aren’t investing time creating lengthy proposals, which are then doomed to a foundation’s circular file.

Another perk of foundations is they often step in to fill gaps left by traditional funders like the National Science Foundation or the National Endowment for the Humanities. Many foundations pride themselves on supporting “big idea” projects that have been labeled too novel, risky or cutting-edge for government funders, including large-scale interdisciplinary collaborations. Others will support meat-and-potatoes efforts like fieldwork, library research, mentoring graduate students, or putting on a conference.

These examples illustrate the one constant with foundations—their interests run the gamut. Some foundations prefer to fund established scholars while others prefer rising stars. Some prefer to support a faculty member’s existing research while others want to help launch faculty in new directions. Some foundations make gifts as modest as $15,000 while others offer support in excess of $1.5 million. The one thing foundations usually don’t fund is endowments.

Corporations, on the other hand, may be more inclined to make endowment gifts, though having the right relationship is key. Corporations typically expect existing ties to the university in at least two of three areas—faculty research, recruitment and partnership opportunities (e.g. technology transfer)—before they will consider a major endowment gift.

It’s nearly impossible for faculty members to find the time to learn all these nuances, and now they won’t have to. Faculty interested in exploring foundations and corporations for support of their work should contact me, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations (ktaylor@uff.ufl.edu). I stay up-to-date on funding trends among key, well-known foundations and corporations, and can help you pull together an application for any funder that fits with your research. I look forward to working with you.

CLAS Successes

Ford Foundation

Following a grant renewal coming in 2006, Political Science Professor Philip Williams and his team will have received more than $1 million to study Latino immigrants in the South.

W.M. Keck Foundation

Astronomy Professor Jian Ge recently received $875,000 to develop an instrument that has the capability of observing stars at 10 times the depth of current surveys, in hopes of discovering thousands of new planets.

David and Lucile Packard Foundation

An interdisciplinary group led by Chemistry Professor Weihong Tan received a $1 million Packard Science and Technology Award in 2002 to use nanotechnology to capture snapshots of activity within single neurons.

Volkswagen Foundation

History Professor Fred Gregory is collaborating with German scholars on a $175,000 project from the Volkswagen Foundation focused on “Mysticism and Modernity.”

Credits

Writer

Kim Taylor

Photo

Jane Dominguez

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