TIPS: Contacting a Program Officer

Funding agency staff assigned to supervise the grant process (grant proposal receipt, review and awards) are known as program officers. It’s always a good idea to contact a program officer early in the development of a grant proposal, and here are some tips on how to do that:

Conduct some research: Locate the program officer’s contact information (note: foundation program officers are not always as accessible as those in government agencies).

Send an email: Include a very short (no more than a paragraph) explanation of what you want to do. Is this something that fits within the program’s mission?

Be proactive: Suggest dates/times for a follow-up phone call to discuss your idea in more depth

Practice courtesy: Don’t waste time. Use your phone appointment to explain, in two minutes or less, what you want to do. Ask for insights and recommendations.

Listen: Consider what you’re told an instruction, not a suggestion. Program officers will do their best to guide you, but can’t give you specific directions. However, a program officer’s advice is golden…follow it.