A Paradigm Shift for Corporate Philanthropy

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Even before the Occupy Wall Street movement highlighted the role and power of corporate America in this nation’s wealth divide, according to researchers on corporate philanthropy, corporate foundation grantmakers felt “disconnected.”

It must be even more difficult since the occupiers targeted Wall Street and a spin-off, the 99% Movement, is marching on corporate shareholder meetings. Think of the quandary of corporate foundation staff: seen by the critics as factotums for a corporate agenda, seen from within their corporations as “do-gooders” perhaps not as connected to the “strategic” corporate agenda as bottom line-focused employees, and seen by themselves as people engaged, or wanting to be engaged, in philanthropy.

The researcher suggested corporate philanthropy is in that dreaded moment of “paradigm shift.” This is usually a term contributed by consultants and think tankers, but maybe it does apply in the corporate world as well.

Putting this in context:  “We need a new narrative about who we are, a narrative about value creation, how we’re creating more value for society.”

60 percent of Americans think that business is best equipped to solve our nation’s social problems, compared to a much smaller percentage who would turn to government.

[Excerpt of an article by Rick Cohen]

Grants as a source of funding

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Access to capital is one of the greatest challenges for both small business owners and small non-profits and NGOs. Knowing where to look and how to sift through grant information that applies specifically to your business can be laborious. But, it can also be very rewarding.

Grant writing is a very specialized discipline and requires strong compliance, research, and writing skills. The relationship between grant makers and grant seekers is governed by specific grant protocol, which refers to the rules and requirements governing the provision and award of grant funding. Protocols are grant-specific.

Grant makers include foundations, nonprofits, businesses, corporations, clubs, and professional organizations. Grants are also provided by state, local, and federal governmental agencies.

State, local, and federal government grants are driven by legislation. Every year, the U.S. government awards $400 billion in grants. Private grant funding sources include foundations, nonprofits, businesses, corporations, clubs, and professional organizations. Information on private grants can be found on the Grantsmanship Center website (tgci.com). The website provides information on top grant making foundations, community foundations, corporate giving programs, and state government grant opportunities by state.

Information on independent, corporate, and community foundation funding sources are also available on the Foundation Center website (foundationcenter.org) and the Council on Foundations (cof.org). The Foundation Center provides grant seekers with information on philanthropy opportunities, proposal writing, research, and training. The Council on Foundations provides grant makers (foundations, corporations, and philanthropic entities) with foundation management services.

Foundations and corporate giving programs offer two types of grants: general purpose or program development. General purpose grant awards can be used to fund operating expenses and special programs. Program development grant awards are restricted to funding specific projects.

Bottom line, the quality and completeness of your grant proposal has a tremendous impact on whether or not your project is selected for funding. It behooves those seeking grants to build a relationship with the grant maker to validate the grant proposal approach, if possible. If a face-to-face meeting is not feasible, a letter of introduction and a conference call is the next best option.