What is a Fundable Project?

Faculty and staff bring many different ideas to the corporate foundation relations offices in the hope of securing funding for them. For some projects, we are able to develop a list of funders whose funding interest(s) match the idea. For others, we can find few or no viable prospects for the idea. In other words, the project is not "fundable." Fundability does not refer to the merits of the idea, but rather the likelihood that corporate or foundation funders will support it. Here are some very general guidelines to gauge whether your project might be suitable for corporate or foundation support.

  1. The project must address a need recognized by the funding community. For example, a project to help economically-disadvantaged youth succeed in college addresses a known need and is fundable. A project to address an equally-pressing need may be just as worthy, but if the need is not one recognized by funding agencies, it will be very difficult to succeed in securing financial support for the project.
  2. Funders want their money to make a measurable difference, an impact, on the issues that they care about. If a project benefits only a handful of people, it is not as compelling to a funder as a project that benefits many people. Similarly, if a project calls for an interaction with a target audience that isn't long or powerful enough to make a perceivable impact (as in the case of a one-time conference), funders will be unlikely to support it.
  3. For organizations like SJU, foundations expect that we will "pay our own bills." In other words, routine and ordinary expenses incurred in the process of educating young people are generally not fundable.
  4. Some types of support are much more difficult to secure than others. For example, many foundations will support project funding; few will support funding for endowment. Below are listed some types of support and the relative ease of securing funding for them.
    • Operating - difficult
    • Project - this is probably the easiest type of funding to secure
    • Capital/equipment - feasible for some types, difficult for others
    • Endowment - difficult
    • Scholarship funds (held by the institution) - challenging
  5. If applicable, the project should include a sustainability plan. Funders are reluctant to support a project that is designed to be ongoing but that has no viable plan for sustaining it past the initial grant. Few funders will support a project indefinitely and neither do they want to invest in a project that is under constant threat of folding for lack of financial support.

Faculty and staff can discuss their ideas with corporate/foundation relations staff who can assess the "fundability" of a project, and give advice on how to proceed.