The world of corporate grants is all too often complicated and difficult to decipher. Companies like WalMart, Amgen, and Bank of America, for example, are very transparent with their giving. They have straightforward processes for applying for grants. Others have simple processes for receiving in-kind donations like food, equipment, or event space. These companies make it easy for nonprofits to figure out the process for receiving funds and donations.
The Mysterious World of Corporate Grants
But more commonly, corporations give to charities through their own, private channels. Sure, they may have some information available on a corporate giving or philanthropy page on their website. But rarely do those sites actually give concrete, useful information. Unless you know someone at the company, you’re probably out of luck when it comes to corporate grants.
One fruitful way to get a foot in the door with corporate grants is to encourage your individual donors, event goers, and other supporters to explore employee matching gifts. Companies like Microsoft, Boeing, and ExxonMobil have generous matching gift programs that double or triple employees’ cash donations. And sometimes, the cash equivalent of their volunteer hours.
Building a Relationship
Once you’ve built a matching gifts program at your organization, start contacting the corporations to learn more about other giving opportunities and corporate grants. There is often one person or a specific team within the company dedicated to managing this aspect of corporate giving, and that’s where you should start. Find a phone number or email address and make a simple inquiry into other opportunities to partner with the corporation.
Other Ways to Work Together
Once you’ve developed a line of communication with the matching gifts director, ask how you can further work with the company. They may have corporate giving days, volunteer days during which they pay their employees to work at your nonprofit, and other fundraising opportunities.
These opportunities will hopefully include corporate grants — and ideally, large grants that renew or even grow each year — but other inquires can be helpful, too. You can build a relationship with a company by soliciting for volunteers, exploring in-kind donations, or even just strengthening your matching gifts program. Often, employees don’t realize the match exists at their company.
There may even be opportunities for a corporation to assist with a program or project at your nonprofit. Maybe Microsoft can get a team together for your organization’s corporate soccer tournament fundraiser. Or maybe Bank of America can contribute a curriculum to your nonprofit’s money management program for low-income families.
The opportunities are endless, so it makes sense to explore as many corporate partnerships as possible.
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