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Strategies and Tips

Advice for Approaching Corporations and Foundations for Grants

Corporate and Foundation Relations differs from individual fundraising in important ways:

  • Foundations are mission-driven organizations
  • Corporations are profit-driven organizations
  • Corporate and foundation grants are not gifts or charity
  • Corporate and foundation grants are investments

Raising the Bar

  • Keep CFR and senior campus leaders informed about your work and relationships – senior leader relationships are key to transformational support
  • Spread the word. Introduce your colleagues to foundation funders, mention their research, and mentor junior faculty
  • Be part of a team effort across campus to share information about who knows whom, the history of the relationship, and knowledge about individual foundations

Thinking Strategically

  • Successful corporate and foundation relations is all about relationship building and long-term funding versus transactional giving (i.e., a one-time grant for a single project)
  • Determine Fordham’s “first and onlys?” What is Fordham University doing that no one else is doing?
  • Get campus leaders connected to foundation leaders (peer-to-peer level)
  • Help the campus community focus on inspiring, big ideas
  • Work together on a case for support

What You Can Do

  • Build relationships with your foundation contacts or develop relationships with help from CFR – including inviting foundation program staff to your events as attendees or as speakers
  • Leverage existing foundation relationships
  • Engage alumni who are in the private sector
  • Focus on the foundation’s objectives
    • Align with the Foundation’s mission
    • Ensure the project has an impact and serves as a catalyst to further their goals

How to Succeed

Find the match

  • Use funding opportunity databases (e.g., Foundation Directory Online, GrantForward) and network with colleagues, mentors, and members of your professional societies


  • Research a foundation before you contact them - each entity has its own culture and requirements
  • Understand the program's review criteria
  • Identify your project’s “first and onlys”
  • Understand your project in the national context
  • Be clear on how your project fits the foundation’s mission

Make a connection

  • Reach out to a program officer - CFR can assist with email communications and letters of inquiry
  • Ask the foundation’s advice
  • Understand the foundation’s review process so that you know your audience