Corporate Giving: Foundation Grants vs. Sponsorships

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    As your NPO looks to increase its revenue from corporations, it is important to distinguish between grants from corporate foundations and corporate sponsorships.

    Both are important sources of revenue, and both come from corporations – many even from the same corporation… But, since they differ in many significant ways, it will impact how you prospect, cultivate, solicit, and steward the corporate donor.

    First let’s take a look at some facts about corporate giving published in the GivingUSA Foundation, “Spotlight” Issue 2, 2008. Corporations give a mixture of cash donations, in-kind gifts, and cash from corporate foundations. Approximately 44% of total corporate giving is cash gifts, 20% is in-kind gifts, and 36% is from corporate foundations. Corporate matching gifts, event sponsorships, and cause-related marketing all fall under the category of cash gifts.

    Also according to this GivingUSA report, corporations tend to give for philanthropic, strategic, commercial, and political reasons. Where “in small companies, giving is often an extension of the owner’s generosity … giving by large, publicly owned companies is almost always influenced by enlightened self-interest.” The business benefits of philanthropic giving can include: increased employee loyalty, public goodwill, increased sales, and community or public infrastructure support.

    The following table looks at how prospecting, cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding of corporate foundation grants differ from the same activities in securing corporate sponsorships:

    Corporate Foundation Grants Corporate Sponsorships
    Funded through the corporate foundation Generally funded through the corporation’s marketing budget
    Generally from larger corporations From small and large corporations
    Prospect using online resources such as Foundation Center or Guidestar, annual reports from NPOs with similar missions, and foundation 990s Prospect using annual reports from NPOs with similar missions, and local media advertising of fundraising events
    Usually publish grant submission and reporting guidelines, and deadlines Usually have minimal or no guidelines and deadlines
    Solicit the foundation manager, and submit grant request following corporate guidelines Solicit the marketing department with a sponsor packet that outlines the value proposition
    Typically want recognition for the corporation Definitely want recognition and advertising value for the corporation, and naming opportunities depending on sponsorship level
    Typically want employee volunteer opportunities at the NPO Definitely want tickets to the event, and may want employee volunteer opportunities at the NPO
    Important to follow-up with outcomes for the program that was included in the grant request Important to follow-up with event outcomes (how many attendees, dollars raised, etc.) and corporate recognition outcomes (media mentions, website hits, e-mail open rates, etc.)

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    Lynn deLearie Consulting, LLC, helps nonprofit organizations develop, enhance and expand grants programs, and helps them secure funding from foundations and corporations. Contact Lynn deLearie.

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