August 02, 2012

From GRC GrantWeek: Landing the Corporate Grant

The Chronicle of Philanthropy has compiled a set of strategies for organizations seeking support from corporate giving programs. The primary reminders are to research, research, research and network, network, network.

Tori Kaplan, assistant vice president of corporate social responsibility at CSX Corporation, tells the Chronicle she expects grantseekers to be familiar not only with the corporation’s philanthropy mission, but also with its business mission. Where possible, applicants should stretch their social networks to connect with company employees. According to Jacquelline Fuller, director of charitable giving at, employee-recommended proposals “absolutely […] carry more weight” than great proposals from unknown applicants.

In addition to building pre-submission awareness and support from the prospective funder, applicants should also take every opportunity to establish relationships with potential collaborators. Although corporations operate in a competitive, market-driven environment, they appreciate the value of cooperative solutions and prefer to work with organizations that have already built successful partnerships.

Measurable results are critically important to all sponsors, but especially to organizations rooted in profit-generation. “There’s a greater expectation for grant recipients [to deliver] a return on that investment,” says Torrence Robinson, senior director of the Fluor Foundation. In spite of their insistence on performance, corporate foundations tend to be generous and responsive to their applicants – successful or not. If a grant application is rejected, always ask why.

Prior to a virgin submission or following a negative funding decision, applicants may choose to offer the funder access to the project prior to a full-on commission of funding. This can involve inviting representatives to campus, engaging them as volunteers, or seeking support for just a small piece of the proposed project. 

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