Raising Corporate Funds

Ann Fitzgerald President AC Fitzgerald author

Ann C. Fitzgerald, President

Aside from the more than $12 billion that corporations give annually to charity, they also contribute to numerous public policy organizations. Most of these grants are made through the company’s government affairs office, which is located in Washington, D.C., the state’s capital, or the city of the company’s headquarters.

If you work for a nonprofit that does public policy work, what are the best techniques for securing corporate support?

Be realistic

Corporations view grants to public policy organizations as an investment in their business. Before approaching a corporation, be well-prepared to answer the following questions:

  • How does your work correlate with their business interests?
  • How does your organization advance specific public policies?
  • Ultimately, how does your work improve the company’s bottom-line?

Conduct Research

Consider who would be your best prospects based on the work you do, then research:

  • Companies in your own state;
  • Companies that have given to your organization in the past;
  • Trade associations for the industries from which you receive support;
  • Corporate donors to other policy organizations similar to yours;
  • Corporate boards on which your major donors or members of your board of directors sit; and,
  •  Companies that make grants to public policy organizations.

Build relationships

Once you have a pool of corporate prospects, develop a relationship with key people at each company.

  • Set a meeting. Learn about the company’s needs and interests, explaining how your organization can best partner with them. It is also an opportunity to build a personal relationship with your contact.
  • Hold a conference call. If you are unable to set up a face-to-face meeting, schedule a time to speak on the phone.
  • Invite them to events. As you begin a relationship or foster one, invite corporate contacts to meetings, briefings and other events.


As your contacts in the corporate community grow, be sure to communicate with them at least monthly.

  • Understand their priorities. Have a basic understanding of their industry and top legislative priorities.
  • Communicate regularly on any activity that may be of interest to them. In other words, respond to their needs.
  • Show results. Report back on how the corporate gift provided tangible results.

Follow up

As we all know, it is much easier to keep a donor than to find a new one. So make sure to follow up and preserve your relationships with your corporate donors.

Once again, the fundamentals apply:

  1. Say thank you—promptly.
  2. Report back regularly.
  3. Respond to their requests.
  4. Keep up-to-date on the issues by reading Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and local business journals.

Sources for Success

Sources for research include annual reports or IRS 990s of other policy groups Foundation Directory, and The Grantsmanship Center. There are also several subscription based services including: FoundationSearch.com, Lobbyists.Info, and the Corporate Yellow Book.

Ann C. Fitzgerald is Founder and President of AC Fitzgerald, using her decades of experience in fundraising, management, leadership, and sales to help nonprofits build their capacity and achieve success. She is a sought-after speaker, writer, and advisor.

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