Frequently Asked Questions

You Have Questions, We Have Answers

The items below are questions commonly received by the Corporate and Foundation Relations team at George Mason University. If you don't see your question answered below, please contact us. 

What does the Corporate and Foundations Relations (CFR) team do, and how can it help me raise funds?

CFR works as part of the Office of Advancement and Alumni Relations to coordinate philanthropic activity at Mason that relates to corporate, foundation, and association donors. We can help foster relationships, utilize existing affiliations, and shepherd you through the process of fundraising.

I have a program that needs funding. How should I proceed?

Start by checking with your director of development for approval to pursue funding and coordinate with your unit's development team. If your unit doesn't have a development team, or you're not sure who they are, please contact us.  Our find resources page has additional resources for funding seekers. 

I have a prospect in mind for support of my program. What do I do next?

It is vital that you work with your director of development and the CFR team to ensure that your project is coordinated with other Mason efforts. Some foundations limit the number of proposals from an institution or have other stipulations. Working with our team will help you navigate these requirements to ensure that you're making the best use of your application. In some cases, the university may have a pre-existing relationship with an organization, and we can support your proposal through that relationship.

Administrators and faculty members seek philanthropic funding from institutional donors for a variety of purposes, including centers they direct as well as their own scholarly activity.

For a project entirely within your school or college—one that funds a core part of the budget or that contributes to a unit priority, such as scholarships or an endowed fund—speak to your assigned development officer first. Your unit’s director of development has relationships with corporations, foundations, and individual donors who may be interested. Otherwise, CFR may be able to help.

If you seek funding for your own scholarship, for a program outside or between units (e.g. an interdisciplinary center), or a university-level initiative, you may reach out directly to OSP or CFR for assistance securing funding.

How do I research prospective corporate and foundation supporters?

Our find funding page provides a number of online tools to help identify corporations and foundations of interest. Our team also offers research support and can help you find such information as the types of gifts potential funders have made in the past, existing Mason relationships, and funding interests. We’ll help you bring all these data points together to prepare a well-written proposal.

Will CFR write my proposal?

No. You are the subject matter expert on your project, and you should write your proposal. CFR will review and edit your draft. We’ll look for areas that could be strengthened, supply required institutional information and University boilerplate as needed. If you’re not sure where to start, contact us.

Are there foundations or corporations that I should not approach?

Yes. There are instances in which another Mason school, college or unit is soliciting or has a relationship with a foundation or corporation. Foundations and corporations sometimes request that Mason coordinate all proposals centrally. Always contact the development professional in your school, college or unit before contacting any foundations or corporations for philanthropic support.

Where do I get a letter of support for my project?

Your director of development can help if the letter is from someone in your unit, such as your dean. If you require a letter from the GMU Foundation, CFR will help you acquire the appropriate signatures.

Note: Only the President and Chief Financial Officer of GMUF are authorized to sign required documents for submission or acceptance of funding on behalf of GMUF. Under no circumstances should a faculty member, administrator, or other employee sign to submit or accept funding on behalf of Mason or GMUF. 

How long will it take to receive a response to my proposal?

Response time is dependent on the funder's timeline. You may receive a response to a proposal in as little as one month, while others take as long as 12 to 18 months to reach a decision.

What's the difference between a gift and a grant?

Guidance on whether an award will be administered as a gift or grant can be found here. The determination depends on the nature of your project and any terms and conditions of the award. Working with CFR early in the process helps ensure your award is handled expediently.