How to Get Corporate Grants for Nonprofits

Have you heard about corporate grants before? Maybe you’ve even applied for a few corporate grants previously. If you’re wondering how to get corporate grants for nonprofits, then our guide to corporate grant funding can help.

We will walk you through where to find corporate grants, when to apply, corporate grant application tips for nonprofits, and some popular FAQs. Our goal is to help you improve your corporate grant writing game and increase your likelihood of success in receiving funding for your organization through corporate grants.

How to Know When to Apply for a Corporate Grant 

One important part of knowing which grants are right for your organization is creating a fundraising model. A fundraising model is a layout that describes all of the types of funding that your organization receives and what percentage of your budget is made of each funding source. Creating and analyzing this model will help you determine if you need to diversify your funding sources.

If your model indicates a need for new funding opportunities, then a corporate grant could be a good fit. You can likely use some information that you have already gathered for other grant applications as a starting point for a corporate grant application. Depending on the amount you are seeking and the specific corporation, the application process may be simpler than other funding sources such as government grants.

You also need to make sure you have goals and objectives for your organization which will help you determine if you need additional funding and what type of work a corporate grant may support. Applying for a corporate grant is just like any other grant application in that you need to be able to allocate the appropriate resources to writing a competitive application. However, you may find that some corporations have simpler application processes which can be one reason to apply for corporate grants.

You also need to understand whether you can meet all grant conditions, have appropriate staff to complete the project, and if the project is sustainable beyond the grant funding.

Many types of organizations may be eligible for corporate grants, but similar to private foundations each corporation will have specific priorities. Many corporations like to fund things like education, environmental-related work, workforce development, or low-income assistance. These are just a few of the major funding areas that are common across multiple corporate giving programs. You will need to research each corporation to find out their specific funding priorities. One to know when to apply for a corporate grant is if your work aligns well with the priorities of a certain corporation.

One thing to note when learning how to get corporate grants for nonprofits is that many corporations prefer to fund organizations that serve the area where their customers and employees live and work. You can usually find information on the locations that they fund through their corporate giving website.

Getting a corporate grant is similar to working with private foundations. Building a relationship with the funder is a great first step when possible. One good way to know whether or not you should apply for a corporate grant is to analyze connections that you may already have such as whether or not board members work for corporations with corporate grant programs. You may also find out whether any vendors that you work with have giving programs as you will already have a relationship with these companies.

As in all grant research, Instrumentl can be a great resource because you can search for all funders that may fund a specific type of organization or project.

You can then dig deeper by selecting a specific funder to learn more about them. Being able to review past organizations and projects that they have funded can be helpful as well. Below is an image of the matches feature which shows all possible matches for a specific project.

Tips for Getting Corporate Grants for Nonprofits

Here we will provide a few corporate grant application tips for nonprofits.

Analyze relationships your organization already has

If you’re learning how to get corporate grants for nonprofits, utilizing preexisting relationships will help cut through red tape. Your application will be much more successful if your organization already has a direct connection to the funder.

Review all funder requirements before applying

It is important to familiarize yourself with the requirements of each corporation or corporate giving program before applying. Commonly, grants for smaller amounts have a more simplistic application, while grants with the potential for higher funding have more in-depth applications. You need to review the application details and eligibility requirements provided by the corporation before beginning your application.

Find corporations whose priorities align with your work

Making sure your work aligns with the priorities of the funder will help make your application more competitive. It is also important to think of the bigger picture regarding who you are partnering with as their support of your work will become public knowledge. It is important to make sure you are sending the right message and don’t simply accept funds because you need the money. For example, if you focus on assisting recovering alcoholics, you may not want to receive a grant from Budweiser.

Reach out to the appropriate contact at the funder ahead of your application.

Introducing yourself and your organization before submitting a full proposal will help make your application more competitive. Forming a relationship with the corporation and/or their foundation will increase your likelihood of success. Even an initial conversation is helpful as they will recognize you when they see your completed application proposal.

Plan out your application like any other grant proposal

You will find the application process for corporations and corporate foundations to be very similar to private foundations. If you have already applied for other types of grants, then you probably have much of the information already available. Make sure you have the necessary information gathered and understand the application process well ahead of any deadlines.

Companies that Offer Corporate Grants 

If you’re interested in how to get corporate grants for nonprofits, then you will want to understand which companies provide grant opportunities. Researching the various opportunities will help you better understand how to apply for corporate grants.

Almost all corporations have some type of giving program. Many larger companies such as Walmart, Target, Kellogg, and even many banks have actual foundations that provide grants to nonprofits. Some corporations offer funding opportunities at multiple levels such as local stores or locations as well as regional or even national level funding opportunities. It will be easier to obtain the local funding, but this is typically for a smaller amount of money.

We are providing you with a list of some of the major corporate foundations and what types of work they usually fund. We recommend reviewing the corporation or corporate foundation information often, as their priorities can change. Note that Instrumentl can be a great resource for learning more about which corporations offer grant opportunities.

Kohl’s 

Through their Kohl’s Cares program, Kohl’s will provide volunteers to assist at local community events organized by nonprofits. In addition to providing volunteers, they provide monetary support for the events that their volunteers attend. They have several other focus areas through their giving program, so you may want to research more based on the work of your organization. You can access information on their priorities here.

Pfizer

Pfizer operates a foundation that supports organizations and projects helping to solve a variety of global science and healthcare issues. They are interested in helping to improve healthcare for low and middle-income countries and underserved communities. 

Their three main focus areas are catalyzing health delivery and social innovation, supporting women and children’s health initiatives, and reducing the burden of non-communicable diseases. They typically fund projects with a large reach and many international projects, but you can learn more on their website.

Target 

The Target Foundation has a national giving program that supports programs focused on one of two priorities: the changing nature of work or financial resilience and inclusion. They take applications by invitation only, but you can submit a form through their website if you feel your organization fits their focus areas. You can learn more here.

Tyson Foods

The corporate giving program through Tyson Foods includes grant opportunities for nonprofits located in and near Tyson facilities. The main focus areas for funding are providing hunger relief or assisting hourly Tyson team members and their families. Tyson is open to other projects taking place within 20 miles of one of their production facilities and they do not require an invitation code. They have more information and their current application cycle on their website.

Walmart

Walmart offers community grants which are linked to the local stores. They are open to funding any work that has an impact on the local community. You can also submit multiple applications at one time as you direct the application to each separate store in your city or town. They are accepting applications between February 1st and December 31st in 2021.

Walmart also supports larger projects in four categories: Creating Opportunity, Advancing Sustainability, Strengthening Community, and Center for Racial Equity. You can find more information on the various grant opportunities on their website. 

Waste Management

Waste Management likes to get involved in the local communities in which their employees work and live. They provide volunteers for local events, sponsorships for certain events, and provide grants to various organizations. Current giving focus areas are environmental conservation, environmental education, and community vitality. Funding is available to 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations. More details including how to apply are available here

Wells Fargo Foundation

Wells Fargo Foundation provides grants to organizations working in one of their four key focus areas: financial health, housing affordability, small business growth, or sustainability and environmental justice. Funding is available at the local community level and the national level. 

They also prioritize projects that serve low-income communities and persons. They are currently operating under an invitation process, but you can reach out to either a local or national contact in your area if you feel your work aligns with their priorities. Contact information for appropriate representatives can be found on their website.

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Corporate Funding Opportunities with Rolling Deadlines

One reason that it can be helpful to understand more about how to get corporate grants for nonprofits is that some corporate giving programs have rolling deadlines. Therefore, corporate grants can be helpful if there are gaps in other funding sources at certain times of the year. Here are a handful of corporate funders that have rolling deadlines.

Duke Energy

The Duke Energy Foundation accepts applications for their local impact funding opportunities year-round. Funding requests must be less than $10,000 to qualify as local impact. They have four focus areas: K-12 education, nature, workforce, and state strategic impact. Details on who is eligible and how to apply can be found here

GM

General Motors has an application cycle that is typically open from January - September each year. Grants are currently available to support projects in four focus areas: STEM education, vehicle & road safety, community development, and climate equity. Details are available on their website.

Sony 

Their focus areas include art, culture, technology, and the environment. You will see from their website that they do not require a formal application, but they provide guidance on what information they wish to see. Details of their application process are available here.

US Bank

They accept letters of interest for their Community Possible Grant Program throughout the year. Once your letter is reviewed, you may be invited to submit a full proposal. The grant program consists of three categories: play, work, and home. You can learn more about these categories and the application on the grant program website.

Corporate Grant FAQ

Any good guide to corporate grant funding should include some frequently asked questions. You may find that you have many questions regarding how to apply for corporate grants. In this section, we have answered some of the most common questions for your reference.

What's the appropriate way to initiate contact with companies to ask for a grant?

There are a couple of different ways that you may initiate contact with a funder. If anyone involved in your organization such as a board member or volunteer has a relationship with the corporation, you may be able to use their contact to start the conversation. These types of connections can prove very valuable as you are not necessarily “cold calling” the corporation or foundation.

Your contact may be able to help facilitate a meeting with the corporation, or may simply give you the appropriate contact information. Make sure you mention the connection between your organization and the corporation and that will help open up your initial conversation.

If you do not have this type of connection, then you will usually be able to find a local or regional contact on the corporate giving website. We recommend reaching out to the contact via email with a very brief description of your organization and a request to set up a time for a phone call for further discussion.

Keep in mind that Instrumentl provides information on the openness of funders to new grantees. See the image below for an example of the types of reports that you can run.

How does a nonprofit get corporate sponsors for an event?

Obtaining sponsorships for an event is a bit different than applying for grants through a corporate foundation. Some corporations do have online application processes for sponsorships, but you may also be able to speak with someone locally or regionally as well.

One good way to seek sponsorships is to analyze relationships that you may already have with certain corporations. Does a board member work for a bank? Does one of your program participants have a parent that works for a local retailer?

It is always best if there is already some type of relationship as that increases your odds of success. Beyond that, you may also look to companies that your organization has previously worked with. These companies may even include vendors that you purchase supplies from.

Similar to applying for corporate grants, you are more likely to get a sponsorship if the work of your organization aligns with corporate priorities. However, money for sponsorships at the local level can come from different pots so it may not have to align as closely.

What is the desired tone of writing to be used in a corporate grant proposal?

The tone of your corporate grant proposal should be similar to any other grant proposal. You will want to keep things formal enough to be professional, but also make sure that you help the reader relate to your organization and the project. It is important to help the reviewers feel something when they read your application. If they are inspired by your application, they are more likely to desire to fund your work.

You may also find that the specific application process lends itself to a certain tone. Many corporations and corporate foundations now use online application systems that break down the information requested by the funder. As with any writing addressing someone that is learning about your organization for the first time, make sure that you explain things in a way that outside readers can understand.

How do expectations for corporate grant proposals vary from other funders?

Expectations for corporate grant proposals are not that different from other funders. The application process is typically similar to private foundations in that each corporate giving program is a little bit unique. It is important to note that many corporate foundations operate on an invitation-only basis, but even these provide contact information if you want to learn more.

Treat a corporate grant proposal like any other proposal and make sure that you do your research ahead of time. Understand your project and funding needs, then research corporations with matching priorities. 

One important thing to keep in mind is that who you receive funding from will be public information. You want to make sure that you partner with corporations that align with the work and mission of your organization as you do not want to send the wrong message to your constituents, donors, or other funders.

Wrapping Things Up: Getting Corporate Grants for Nonprofits

In this guide to corporate grant funding, we have provided some insights into how to get corporate grants for nonprofits. The process is similar to any other grant writing in that you want to do your research. Most corporate foundations will provide contact information for local or regional contacts; it is recommended that you reach out before applying. In your research, you will find that some corporate foundations operate on an invitation-only basis, feel free to still reach out if you feel your work aligns with their priorities.

We also demonstrated that relationships can be key in obtaining corporate foundation grants and/or corporate sponsorships. Make sure that the evaluation of relationships your organization may already have is part of your grant planning process. Overall, we hope you found some helpful tips and are now better equipped to apply for corporate grants.

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