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It can help in winning a grant to consider planning a proposal to a private business or a corporation as a 12-step process. These are the first six steps:


12 Steps Corporations 1 Graphics


1. Search. Use a project outline or a similar device as a guide for planning and identifying a suitable project. Research corporate websites, state grant directories and Foundation Center (or other) databases for listings of corporate grant and charitable giving programs. Review tables of contents, search options, and instructions about how to use the directories and databases. Refer to glossaries, if any, to clarify term as needed. Use subject topic options and types of support options to help narrow the search.


2. Review. Identify up to ten prospective sources of corporate funding. Visit their websites. Consider the corporations’ sizes and locations. Focus on corporations with a presence in your city or county or state. Gauge potential corporate interest. Review each corporation’s programs and initiatives. Examine their annual reports. Look for clues about their products, priorities, and funding patterns. Consider the degree of fit between these and your project or other funding request.


3. Align. Match up the project with each corporate grant program. Look for potential advocates for your project by recruiting among persons who work for the corporation, persons on its board of directors, persons who use its products or services extensively, and community members. Ask among your organization’s advocates and proponents if any has personal or social connections with trustees, board members, executives, or others in key decision-making positions at each corporation.


4. Refine. Do further research. Use directories, databases, and corporate websites to identify each prospect’s founder, board members, and trustees. Obtain and analyze pertinent elements of an organizational chart, if available. Identify each corporation’s board members, founders, and history. Locate and review recent news articles about each corporation, particularly those about activities in its foundations and giving programs. Review program websites, annual reports, newsletters, and other publications.


5. Analyze. Study the information you obtain from your research. Reconsider the degree of fit of your organization and your project with each target corporation. Estimate and describe the possible benefits of your project to each corporation. Order in ranked priorities those corporations whose grant-making and/or charitable giving programs appear to have the best fit with you.


6. Revise. Look again at your project and funding request. Review its selling points in light of each corporation’s philanthropic and community-relations agenda. Identify ways to improve the clarity of your project’s fit with each agenda. When there is no clear fit, do not try to force one on the corporation or on your project.


Six more steps for winning corporate grants appear in a later post.


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