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Tag Archives: Philanthropy

This post explores directories of foundations as grant makers in Puerto Rico and in the United States Virgin Islands (USVI). Compared to their counterparts in the fifty states and in Washington, DC, nonprofits and other grant seekers operating in Puerto Rico and in the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) appear to have relatively limited options among local grant makers.

 

Foundations in Puerto Rico

The Flamboyan Foundation publishes the Directorio de Fundaciones de Puerto Rico 2015 (in Spanish only), which is available online as a free PDF file. It lists 106 entities that engage in philanthropic activity in Puerto Rico – including 14 family foundations, 32 operating foundations, six independent foundations, eight corporate foundations, 18 public foundations, four corporate giving programs, and one community foundation with 23 active funds.

 

Foundations in the US Virgin Islands

The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands publishes the Directory of Community Organizations Serving the U.S. Virgin Islands 2016-2017, which is available online as a free PDF file. Among the many providers of community services active in the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), the current Directory identifies six foundations. Its contents describe each foundation’s purposes, programs, and types of support, and they provide detailed contact information, as well as websites (where available).

 

Of the foundations described in the Directory of Community Organizations:

  • Six are based in the USVI, one in Florida
  • Four make grants and two award scholarships
  • One provides technical assistance and one makes donations only
  • One makes neither grants nor donations

 

Foundation Name Location Type of Support
Bennie and Martha Benjamin Foundation Florida Scholarships and grants
Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands St. Thomas USVI Scholarships and grants
Foundation for Development Planning Inc. St. Thomas USVI Technical assistance
Island Resources Foundation St. Thomas USVI Donations only
St. Croix Foundation for Community Development St. Croix USVI Grants
VI Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. St. Croix USVI Grants

 

Request

If visitors to this blog know of other foundations operating or making grants in the United States Virgin Islands or in Puerto Rico, please post a comment here with the grant makers’ names and locations.

 

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The future of competitive grant making, in both public and private spheres, is of considerable interest to grant seekers and to those who work with and for them.

 

This post explores three trends impacting the future of private grant making: grants as investments, social media, and product-driven support. Its purpose is descriptive, not normative. Arguably, although the trends’ context is American, their scope and consequences are potentially global.

 

Grants as Investments:

The notion of grants as investments is a commonplace in venture philanthropy, but it is not unique to it, nor even to the world of private capital. It reflects premises that grant funds represent scarce social and economic resources, that they require careful stewardship and prudent use, and that providers of such resources ought reasonably to expect them to bear returns. The challenge for grant seekers is to demonstrate that their defined problems or needs – and their ideas or strategies for solving or reducing them – are worthy of an initial investment (and continuing or renewed investments in later years).

 

For grant recipients, the challenge is to demonstrate that they have made significant progress in solving or reducing those problems or needs. In the longer term, just as in other settings, if the investment underperforms, and evidence of this progress is weak or absent, the (public or private) investor is apt to invest its funding elsewhere – and to do so sooner rather than later.

 

Social Media:

Perhaps it’s too soon to tell if the emerging practice of awarding grants or gifts-in-kind based on the number of hits or clicks or ‘votes’ on a competition sponsor’s website is a marketing fad or an enduring trend. By hosting and advertising the competition, the sponsor creates a marketing buzz. There is little or no need for the contenders to craft formal proposals so long as they can rally more ‘votes’ than their rivals. Instead, the process replaces any more or less technical review of a proposal’s comparative merits with a popularity contest.

 

Product-Driven Support:

Manufacturing corporations usually seek to realize a profit on what they sell. By making their products available as in-kind gifts to school districts or hospitals or other entities they can create familiarity with their product line and brand. In turn, daily use can lead to loyalty and to a desire and decision to buy more of the products, particularly if they prove their value during use. The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that during the 2010s corporate “donations of products are growing at a faster rate than cash.”

 

Sometimes a manufacturer’s product-driven support can be just as good as cash and its products can totally transform the places that receive them. The Apple Corporation once hosted Apple Partners in Education (Apple PIE) and awarded highly competitive grants of hardware, software, and extensive training to partnerships involving Apple, a school, and a college of education. The resources were worth as much as $150,000 over two years.

 

Many other corporations also offer product-driven support. In some circles, such as in health-related philanthropy, the trend of its use is accelerating. The challenges for grant seekers are to be able make effective use of the products they may receive, and to be able to tap other sources for the cash they need to be able to support their users and their ongoing use. If they lack options for obtaining cash, they may well be wiser to forego seeking an award of products.

 

A previous post explored three other trends impacting the future of private grant making: discretionary decline, asset attrition, and social entrepreneurship.

 

 

Corporate philanthropy takes two forms: corporate giving programs and corporate foundations. Direct giving programs comprise 77.5% of corporate philanthropy; corporate foundations, as endowed by a parent corporation, comprise the rest.

 

Corporate Direct Giving Programs:

Corporate direct giving programs are not separate entities under the law; thus, they do not need to file a Form 990 or a Form 990PF and no not need make other statutory public disclosures. Instead of endowments, they may include employee matching gifts and in-kind donations as part of their grant making efforts. Some of them will support programs that fall outside the scope of a corporate foundation.

 

Corporate Foundations:

Corporate foundations are discrete legal entities, separate from their corporate sponsors. They may be organized as public charities or as private foundations and as such they must file a Form 990PF and observe other statutory public disclosure requirements. They build their endowments in more prosperous years and draw them down in less prosperous ones. Corporate business interests commonly guide their giving.

 

Priorities:

One of key facet of all corporate giving is its links to the corporation’s business interests. Consequently, applicants benefit if they are located in communities where the corporation has facilities, and if their services benefit the corporation’s employees or their families. They can also benefit if they demonstrate how their project or initiative will advance the corporation’s bottom line of profit making.

Grant seekers should always monitor trends and patterns in grant making. Several social and economic trends have emerged during the 2010s. Their convergence is serving to flatten the growth curve of present and planned corporate philanthropy.

 

This post explores several continuing and new social and economic trends impacting corporate charitable giving. An earlier post described how corporations give to support charitable purposes.

 

Continuing Trend

The global economy and its stock markets continue to perform well below expectations. Economic growth is weak in most major economies. By most measures that matter, China, Japan, the United States, and the 17-nation European Economic Union all report struggling or sputtering growth rates.

 

New Trends

Corporate donation priorities are shifting from cash to products. Consequently, the rate of growth in product donations is outpacing that of cash donations, such as grants. Many products do have real value, but recipients cannot meet payrolls with them.

 

Nearly 90% of companies seek business benefits from their philanthropic pursuits. Product donations act as marketing tools to create brand awareness and encourage brand loyalty. They also act as catalysts for product demand and enlarging market share. When recipients become familiar enough with them, they often look for and buy more of them.

 

Targeted giving is becoming a new corporate norm, just as ‘targeted funding’ has long been a mantra in Federal discretionary grant programs. More businesses seek to protect their bottom lines by tackling a one or more of a host of critical social and environmental issues. As a result, specific corporations may target physical activity and wellness, multimodal transportation, or secure freshwater resources.

 

Social causes are also hot. Causes like affordable housing or workforce skills development draw corporate interest; giving to them can help businesses to access new markets. Such donations can help also to build an image of proactive corporate citizenship. Some more avant-garde corporations are using more intensively focused to spark faster or broader social change. However, in the same way as giving away products, being taking the lead in social causes is intended to build business reputation or build a brand, and thus bolster profit.

 

Consequences

Among the foreseeable consequences of these trends are that a potential applicant or client may need to look elsewhere than corporate philanthropy if:

  1. its cause or issue isn’t in the current corporate spotlight, or
  2. it needs an infusion of cash rather than one of products or of short-term donated labor and/or expertise

 

As grant seekers, we can only wish corporations all the profits they can create. After all, we stand to profit when they do – or not long after!

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