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Establishing Partnerships with Corporate Philanthropies

Rural organizations may be interested in establishing partnerships with corporate philanthropies and company-sponsored foundations. Some companies have separate charitable or philanthropic arms that focus solely on providing assets to community programs. Corporate philanthropies may have local and national giving programs. Corporate philanthropies may focus on giving to communities where the corporation has a physical presence: for example, where distribution centers, stores, physical offices, or staff are located. Corporate philanthropies support community programs in different ways, such as through grants, sponsorship, or cash donations.

Corporations are motivated to donate funds to programs for various reasons, often for different reasons than other philanthropies. For example:

  • Companies may prefer donating to nonprofit organizations that are located in the same geographic location as the company itself.
  • Companies are also more likely to support causes and efforts that are linked to their mission in some way or tied to interests of company employees and/or leadership. For example, some companies may match investments contributed by individual employees to a cause.
  • Companies tend to donate to causes that also align with the beliefs of the company and its employees and that are not considered controversial.

Examples of Models to Establish Partnerships with Corporate Philanthropies

  • The Walmart Foundation provides grants to local communities via its Community Grant Program. There are eight areas of funding:
    • Community and economic development
    • Diversity and inclusion
    • Education
    • Environmental sustainability
    • Health and human services
    • Hunger and healthy eating
    • Public safety
    • Quality of life
  • Microsoft Philanthropies is investing in a Rural Broadband Initiative to increase the proportion of individuals in rural communities with access to broadband internet in order to improve rural economic and educational opportunities. Microsoft is implementing three strategies as part of the initiative: invest in capital projects needed to expand broadband coverage, invest in skills training for community members, and provide royalty-free access to technologies for improving broadband connectivity.
  • The Highmark Foundation is a Pittsburgh-based private organization that provides funding and support to rural programs in West Virginia. Two of its main areas of focus include children's health and healthcare for underserved populations. Aside from its clear funding priority areas, the foundation lists all eligibility guidelines and steps for programs seeking funding.

Considerations for Implementation

Corporate philanthropies may not offer grants to organizations located outside of a specific geographic area. Additionally, corporate philanthropies may offer grants that are small, though still meaningful, in size (for example, between $5,000 and $10,000). Rural programs should also consider how the corporate philanthropy's mission and priorities align with their own. For example, a rural program addressing obesity in the community may wish to apply for a grant from a corporate philanthropy that is committed to improving physical activity and nutrition in communities. Finally, it is important to review all the giving guidelines, as corporate philanthropies have specific requirements about the types of entities that are eligible for funding.

Program Clearinghouse Examples

Resources to Learn More

Beyond Sponsorship: A Better Approach to Corporate Funding for Nonprofits
Provides tips for making the most of a meeting with a potential corporate sponsor.
Author(s): Lord, E.
Organization(s): DonorDrive
Date: 5/2017

Corporate Giving Programs and Foundations
Collection of resources related to corporate giving programs and foundations, including links to various articles and webinars.
Organizations(s): Council on Foundations

How to Attract Corporate Philanthropy
Collection of resources providing advice on gaining support from corporate philanthropies; some resources may require a subscription to The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
Organization(s): The Chronicle of Philanthropy
Date: 2/2016

Micropolitan Success Stories from the Heartland
This paper features case studies of five rural areas demonstrating strong economic growth and examines the seven common attributes that contribute to their success.
Author(s): DeVol, R. & Wisecarver, S. J.
Organization(s): Walton Family Foundation
Date: 5/2018