Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to a range of questions you may have about foundation and corporate relations

With what kind of projects and programs can OCFR assist?

The OCFR team is always happy to learn more about the project, program or research for which you seek funding. We aim to offer a realistic assessment of its chances of being funded by a particular company or private foundation, based on a number of factors, to maximize your chances for success.

What is a foundation, and what do foundations fund?

Foundation Center defines a foundation as an entity that is established as a nonprofit corporation or a charitable trust under state law, with a principal purpose of making grants to unrelated organizations or institutions or to individuals for scientific, educational, cultural, religious, or other charitable purposes. This broad definition encompasses two foundation types: private foundations and public foundations, the latter being a type of public charity. The most common distinguishing characteristic of a private foundation is that its funds come from one source, whether an individual, a family, or a corporation.

Foundations will fund a wide range of academic and research projects. Foundations may also choose to support endowments, such as those supporting professorships or scholarships, or even building/plant funds. Sign up for our quarterly newsletter to see examples of what foundations are currently funding at Rice.

What is a corporate foundation?

According to the Council on Foundations: "Corporate foundations are philanthropic organizations that are created and financially supported by a corporation. The foundation is created as a separate legal entity from the corporation, but with close ties to the corporation... Corporate foundations tend to make grants in fields related to their corporate activities or in communities where the corporation operates, or where their employees reside... Rather than establish a separate foundation, a company can also make gifts and grants directly to charitable organizations through a program within the company itself. This is called a corporate giving program."

If you are interested in reaching out to a corporate foundation, our team would love to hear from you.

What is a request for proposal (RFP)?

A request for proposal (RFP) is an invitation from a funder to submit applications on a specified topic with specified purposes. Unsolicited requests, however, are submitted on any topic of interest to the funder. If a foundation officer approaches a faculty or staff member and requests a proposal on a certain topic, these are solicited requests.

Can faculty and staff apply to any grant or RFP?

In general, we ask that you notify OCFR before you apply, to avoid simultaneous requests to a company or foundation that may violate grant-making requirements. Recognizing that each circumstance is different, we will discuss with you ways in which we can, or even should, be involved. Sometimes, we will simply provide you with any insight we have to help with your proposal, including the company’s or foundation’s historical relationship with Rice and its typical grant size.

How much time does the entire grant-making process typically take?

The entire grant-seeking process can take several months or even years. Although a foundation or company may only require a few months to review a proposal and determine whether or not to fund it (the timeframe will vary by funder and may depend on when and how many times a foundation board meets each year), successfully positioning your project for support can often be a long-term process.

What is the difference between a 990 and a 990-PF, where can i find them, and how do I read them?

The 990 is the tax return for a public foundation (more commonly called a public charity) and 990-PF is the tax return U.S. private foundations file. This public document provides fiscal data for the organization, names of trustees and officers, application information, and a complete list of grants made during a particular year. More information about how to read these forms can be found here.

Why must I route my proposal through Cayuse before submitting it?

Some foundations (particularly smaller ones) and companies may give outright “gifts” which have minimal reporting requirements and no official grant agreement forms. These monies are deposited into “G” Funds. Increasingly, however, funders make “grants.” Thus, most foundation and some corporate grant funds come with an official grant agreement form, which describes, for example, specific reporting requirements and accounting procedures and include the provision that any unspent funds be returned. Given these restrictions, Rice now consistently treats the majority of incoming funds as sponsored research, or “R” Funds.

To ensure greater oversight of these funds and compliance with the grant's restrictions, Research & Cost Accounting manages all monies held in R funds and will prepare any required financial reports. Just like all other sponsored projects, those proposals that, if granted, would likely be held in an R fund must be routed and approved using SPARC's web-based software Cayuse before they are submitted to the funder. Routing a proposal and budget through Cayuse ensures that they go through the correct channels to be vetted by deans and center directors and that the submission has been approved by SPARC.

I want my award to be placed in a G fund, but i am told it needs to be in an R fund. Why?

G Funds (or Gift Funds) are for unrestricted gifts, with no reporting requirements and no statements that the funds must be returned if they are not used by the end of the award period. If either reporting or returning funds is mentioned in the award agreement document, then the award must go into an R fund (or Restricted fund). An R fund gives Research and Cost Accounting the ability to track fund expenditures and provide financial reporting as required.

What are facilities and administrative costs (F&A)? Must my proposal budget include them?

Facilities and Administrative Costs may also be referred to as overhead or indirect costs. These terms refer to the general administrative costs and university services that support sponsored research projects and may include: salaries and expenses of executive leadership; costs of operating and maintaining facilities; and the cost of other administrative services upon which all departments/centers rely. These costs differ from direct costs that are directly attributed to a particular project, including but not limited to: PI and co-PI time to implement project, specific project supplies, project travel, etc. For information on how to calculate facilities and administrative costs and for sample budgets visit the SPARC website.

To capture as much of the real costs of implementing a sponsored project as possible, it is Rice's policy to include Facilities and Administrative Costs on every proposal unless 1) the funder does not permit overhead or 2) the department has received an official waiver through their dean's office from the Vice Provost for Research. Unlike federal sponsors, private foundations generally allow a limited amount of overhead or a certain percentage of the total direct costs of the project. If you have any questions about how much overhead the foundation or company to which you are applying will allow, please contact OCFR.

Is there a development officer within my school that can also help with corporations and foundations?

Yes, most schools have at least one designated development officer who serves as a liaison between the school and Rice's Development and Alumni Relations division. To get information on the school-based development officer who works in your particular school, please contact OCFR. Our office works closely with these development officers on matters that involve corporations and foundations.

How does OCFR differ from the office of sponsored projects and research compliance (SPARC) and from Research & Cost Accounting (RCA)?

All three offices support research at Rice University, though in different ways. OCFR works closely with SPARC and RCA to receive and manage grants from foundations and corporations. SPARC supports the submission of proposals to all external sponsors, including federal, state, and local agencies, foundations, and corporations. OCFR and OSR work closely together to submit proposals to and receive grants from companies and foundations, a process that involves properly routing proposals through Cayuse.

RCA creates funds for all sponsored project awards in Banner, including all foundation grants that will be managed in R funds. RCA reviews expenditures throughout the grant period and monitors spending compliance with the award terms. RCA will prepare grant financial reports and close out awards.

What are the procedures for obtaining a NCE for my project?

Visit the SPARC website for more on obtaining a no-cost extension.