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Advocacy — Overview

The Retirement Research Foundation funds advocacy projects that have a regional or national impact on older Americans. Of particular interest are projects that:

  • Advance policy issues of critical importance to our nation’s seniors such as economic security, health care, housing, etc.
  • Use clearly focused and strategic efforts to address systemic problems
  • Forge partnerships with organizations to achieve better use of resources and to share knowledge

Advocacy — Eligibility

Advocacy Grants are provided to nonprofit organizations that are:

  • Tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code; OR non-profit organizations that are not required to have a 501(c)(3) designation, such as state-funded universities
  • Proposing a project that may have a significant focus on older adults, ages 65 and above


While RRF is committed to funding effective advocacy programs, RRF grant funds cannot be used for lobbying efforts to win or defeat any specific pieces of legislation.

Organizations applying for Advocacy Grants will:

  • Maintain a separation between their lobbying and advocacy work
  • Describe the activities to be funded by RRF
  • Acknowledge in writing that RRF funds will not be used for lobbying efforts

In addition, RRF does not fund:

  • General operating support
  • Conferences or fundraising events
  • Governmental agencies, except for state universities, area agencies on aging, and programs of the Veterans Administration

First Step – A Letter of Inquiry

The Retirement Research Foundation acknowledges the time and effort needed to submit a proposal and invites interested applicants to submit a brief Letter of Inquiry (LOI).

This step is optional, but offers valuable one-time feedback as you prepare a full proposal.

The LOI should be emailed to as a Word or PDF attachment. Kindly use a 12 point Arial font. Please submit your LOIs according to these deadlines:

Submit LOI by:           For the Following Proposal Deadline:
December 1                  February 1
March 15                       May 1
June 15                         August 1

Include the following information in your three-page Letter of Inquiry:

  • Timeframe
  • Estimated project cost, amount of funding already secured (if applicable), and amount requested from RRF
  • The issue the project will address; why advocacy efforts are needed at this time
  • Strategies and methods planned
  • Partner organizations/stakeholders and their roles in the project
  • Evaluation criteria and methods
  • Potential regional or national impact of the project
  • Why the applicant is qualified to lead the effort


Additional search words for this web page:

letter of intent

Advocacy — Apply

For applicants from universities or hospital organizations, please note that RRF prefers that the applicant is the university or the hospital, rather than a foundation affiliated with the university or hospital.  If you have questions about this, please contact RRF directly before you submit your application.

RRF requests that all proposals include the following components as outlined in 1 – 4.  After you have completed the online application form, you will be asked to upload each of these documents as individual Microsoft or PDF files.  Kindly use a 12 point Arial font. Budgets are be uploaded as Microsoft Excel files. Please note that, except for the Executive Summary and Bios/Resumes, there is no page or length restriction.

  1. The Executive Summary is a separate two- to three-page summary that concisely describes the project. The Executive Summary offers a succinct overview of your project and allows RRF to better understand what you are trying to accomplish. Include brief information about the project’s need, objectives, methods, total project cost, and amount requested from RRF.
  2. The Proposal Narrative provides an opportunity for you to describe your project thoroughly to RRF by addressing the following:
    • Applicant Organization
      • Include a brief history of your organization, recent accomplishments, and the organization’s qualifications to lead this project
    • Project Significance
      • Importance and relevance of the proposed project
      • Background information on the issue(s) to be addressed
      • Literature review that highlights existing knowledge in the field and/or how the project will address gaps
      • Anticipated contribution of the project
    • SMART Objectives
    • Proposed Methods
      • Advocacy strategies and methods your organization proposes to use
      • Partner organizations/stakeholders and their roles in the advocacy project, if applicable
      • Identification of decision-makers to be targeted
      • Schedule of activities
      • Evaluation criteria and the nature of evidence to be collected to determine impact
    • Evaluation
      • Methods that will be used to measure progress toward stated objectives
      • Type of data that will be collected
      • Methods that will be used to analyze the data
      • To obtain more information about evaluation, please see our evaluation guidelines
    • Dissemination
      • Describe how the advocacy efforts will be shared publicly including the groups, conferences, and media outlets where the project and its outcomes will be publicized.
      • Describe or include any proposed tools, reports, briefs, policy research papers, professional journals, new releases, etc.
    • Plans for Continued Support
      • Describe plans for continued support if the project is expected to operate beyond the period for which grant funds are requested
    • Personnel
      • Describe the key personnel and their qualifications to lead this effort
  3. The Budget, Budget Narrative, and Timeline will be uploaded as three individual Microsoft Office or PDF documents.  While RRF does not require a standard form for these documents, samples are provided for illustrative purposes.  You may use more than one page for each document.
    • The Line Item Budget includes all expenses and income, including grant funds requested from RRF and funds received and/or requested from other sources for this project, if any. Please include the percentage of time allocated for project staff.  Up to 10 percent of the budget may be requested from RRF for indirect project costs. See RRF’s Budget Sample.
    • The Budget Narrative describes how the budget relates to the proposed project activities. Budget narratives generally contain a description for each line item identified in the budget. See RRF’s Budget Narrative Sample.
    • The Timeline corresponds directly to the activities that are described in the proposal. See RRF’s Timeline Sample.
  4. In addition to the documents listed above, you will also be asked to upload:
    • The Signature Page to provide proof of who in your organization has authorized this project
    • Bios or resumes of no more than 2-3 pages for the Project Director and other key project staff. Upload in one file.
    • Current Board of Directors roster with affiliations. Upload in one file.
    • Signed letters of support, if appropriate. Upload in one file.
    • Letters of commitment from collaborators, if applicable. Upload in one file.
    • IRS 501(c)(3) designation letter or other evidence of federal non-profit status
    • Most recent audited financial report (preferred) or IRS 990
    • Most recent annual report (an optional item)

The Foundation has an online application form to guide organizations in preparing and presenting their proposals.


A. How To Create An RRF Online Application Account And Obtain a New Application Form:

  1. Using the Print function in your Internet Browser, print these instructions for reference.
  2. CAUTION: You should use either Internet Explorer or Firefox as your Internet Browser to minimize issues while working in your online application account.  Google’s Chrome will not work properly with RRF’s online application form.
  3. Click on this button:
  4. CAUTION: Only click on this button ONCE to create your RRF Online Application Account and obtain an application form for your first online Responsive Grant Proposal submission to RRF.
    Clicking on this button more than once will result in multiple blank application forms, which may cause confusion.
    NOTE: In the future when you are ready to submit another proposal, return to this web page and use this button again to log back into your account to obtain and start a new application.
  5. The Please Sign In screen from The Retirement Research Foundation will display.  The first time you apply, you will need to click on the New Applicant? button located below the E-mail field to create your account.
    New Applicant Button Image
  6. The New Applicant? screen will then display.  Enter your email address and create your password according to the instructions on the screen.  Then click on the Continue button at the bottom of the screen to finish creation of your account.
  7. A blank online application form will display.  You may now start filling in the application form.  Once you finish a section of the form, click on the Next button displayed at the bottom of the screen to begin the next section of the form.  If you need to stop working on the form, click on the Save & Finish Later button, so that you can return to the application at a later date. We recommend saving your application regularly (every thirty minutes) to avoid timeout errors.
    Save And Finish Later Button Image
  8. A screen listing your application form will display.  Notice that your application form will have a unique five-digit ID number.  You will enter that ID number in your application form where indicated.  Also, make note of that number, because it may be useful when corresponding with RRF after submission of your application.

B. Tips For Continuing To Work On An RRF Responsive Proposal Online Application Form:

(Please note that the software program will purge unfinished applications following 120 days of inactivity.)

  1. To continue working on an RRF online application form, click on this button:
  2. NOTE: If you save the following web address to your Favorites in your Internet Browser, you can use it to continue filling in your application; then you will not have to return to the RRF website to access your application.
  3. The Please Sign In screen will appear.  To log into your account, type in the email address and password that you used to create your account and then click on the Login button.
    Login Button in the Please Sign Screen
  4. Upon opening your online application account, you will see a listing of your online application forms that are in progress.  To open the application form that you are currently working on, click on the listing with its five-digit ID number.
  5. If you have multiple application forms listed, please delete each blank, unneeded form by clicking on the garbage can icon displayed to the right of the application form’s listing in your online account.  Deleting these unnecessary application forms will help avoid confusion about which application you are working on.
  6. If you need help, please contact The Retirement Research Foundation at 773-714-8080 or via this email address:


Advocacy — Reporting Requirements

The due dates for all grant reports are listed on page four of the RRF Grant Award Letters sent to applicants who are awarded grants.

The need for both interim reports and a final report is up to the RRF Program Officer assigned to a grant.  Therefore, interim reports may be required for some grants, but not for others.

Grantees will submit their reports electronically via the applicable report form(s) uploaded into the grantees’ RRF Online Applications and Requirements accounts soon after grants are awarded.  Grantees will receive an email notifying them when the applicable report form(s) have been uploaded into their account.  In addition, they will receive instructions about how to access the forms via an RRF Online Applications and Requirements Account.

Documents describing the information to be included in the grant report(s) may be accessed via the links below:

Interim Reporting Requirements For RRF Grantees

Final Reporting Requirements For RRF Grantees