Beginner's Guide to Corporate Philanthropy

Applying to foundations for funding can take time and effort, but it’s a relatively straightforward process, with lots of existing resources to help nonprofits identify funders and prepare applications. Corporate giving programs tend to get less attention, leading to confusion about how to approach companies for support or whether to approach them at all.

In this post, we review the basics of corporate philanthropy, including the various forms it can take and how to learn about and approach potential corporate donors.

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What Do You Do When You Have a Big Mission and No Money?

While all nonprofit organizations need to secure funding, there are key differences between small, struggling organizations and large, well-funded organizations other than the obvious difference in size. If your organization is struggling to find money, below are suggestions you can implement to up your grant game. 

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Identifying the Right Grant Opportunities

How do you know which grants your organization should apply for? To use your limited resources effectively, it's important to pursue only those opportunities that fit your organizational and programmatic capabilities. Pursuing grants your organization is unlikely to win doesn't make sense. On the flip side, some grant opportunities aren't worth applying to--regardless of the odds of winning an award--because of the high cost of project implementation.

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Creating a Grant Strategy for 2018

Creating a grant strategy involves identifying the funders you want to pursue, and, to the degree possible, specific opportunities of interest from each funding source. Developing a grant strategy also requires insight into your organization. You need to know your organization's long- and short-term goals, its capabilities and resources, and its tolerance for risk. To create a realistic strategy, you also need to be familiar with the general funding environment.

 
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Making Sense of Cost Share

Cost share requires the applicant to contribute a certain dollar amount (or dollar equivalent) to support the budget and thus "share" the costs of the proposed project.  This post is going to cover some of the basics around cost share including why it is required, why it matters when evaluating opportunities, and how you can come up with cost share.

 
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Preparing for a Government Funding Opportunity

Foundation grants often have known release dates and established program areas, which mean there are few surprises: You can find out when the foundation accepts proposals, and you can usually read up on the program areas and past grantees on the foundation's website. You may even be able to access the grant application well in advance of the time applications are due if the foundation uses a standard application format.

Government grant opportunities are different. For many government funding opportunities, the agency that will release the funding announcement doesn't have direct control over all the variables including how much money a grant will award and even when the opportunity announcement will be published.

 
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Setting Yourself Up to Win a Foundation Grant before the Funding Opportunity Comes Out

How do you start work on a proposal opportunity that hasn't been announced yet? There is a two-part answer. Your approach will depend on whether you are interested in foundation funding or government grants. This post will focus on preparing for foundation grants. A follow-up post will discuss preparing for government grants.

 
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Tips for Finding Foundation Grants to Support Research

Researchers depend on grants to fund their work. The largest funders of research are government agencies. Private and corporate foundations also fund research. Although grants awarded by foundations are usually smaller than those awarded by government agencies, foundation grants are almost always easier to apply to, leading to lower opportunity costs.

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Focus on Partnerships to Increase Funding Options

If your organization is based in a developing country, you may not be able to secure funding directly from some foreign donors. While providing funding for projects in developing countries, many donors will only fund projects led by nonprofits headquartered in the same country where the donor itself is located. Instead of receiving funds directly from the donor,  local partners--the organizations located in the country where the project will take place--join the project as subcontractors (or "subs") to a lead organization based in the donor's country.

 
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If Your Nonprofit Organization Urgently Needs Funding, Explore Crowdfunding

If you are trying to secure grant funding to help launch or sustain an organization or project, you may need bridge funding to cover your expenses while you search for grant opportunities. If you are in this situation, a crowdfunding campaign may be worth exploring

 
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Should You Be Relying on Grant Funding?

Grant funding is part of the funding mix for most nonprofits. For some organizations, grants make up the bulk of their funding. However, few organizations can rely solely on grant funding. In part this is because grant funding is unpredictable. Both the number of grants received, and the awarded amounts, can vary considerably from year to year. In addition to the unpredictability of grants, there are other drawbacks. Five are outlined below. Before you embark on the pursuit of grant funding, you'll want to prepare for each of these challenges.

 
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Researching Potential Funders: Tools for Prospect Research

When you start to research funding opportunities, ideally you'll have a budget to pay for a subscription to a foundation database to help you with your search. There are free options, however, paid tools are the way to go if you want to have access to the most comprehensive listings.Below are profiles of six databases for foundation research and one government-sponsored database for U.S. government grants.

 
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