Corporate grant seeking tips from Walmart

At the AFP Massachusetts 2011 Fundraising Conference on November 30th, Margaret McKenna, former CEO and now senior advisor to the Walmart Foundation, shared some tips for appealing to corporate grant makers that I’d like to pass along to you.

  • Use your “heart and instincts.” Think about what would move you to give money, and write accordingly.
  • Make your case succinctly right up front. Be very “crisp” right from the start by defining the problem and how you are planning to address it. Show why your organization has the credibility to address this problem. Don’t lead with a boilerplate mission and history.
  • “Use bullet points.” Explain the need, why the need is important and how it is not being met, whether anyone else is addressing this, and why the money should go to you.
  • In writing about your mission, explain why it is important. Would some other group have to come along to address this if you went away? Would anyone care?
  • Show your passion.
  • Explain your expertise, the commitment you’ve already demonstrated to this issue, and how it fits in with what you do.
  • Explain how many lives will be affected and the impact you seek to have, not just how many people you plan to “touch.”

Good advice for making your case to any donor, don’t you think?

Have any success stories of corporate grant seeking you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them.


P.S. Of course, if the funder has a specific format they want you to use, remember to follow that.

P.P.S. Formerly the President of Lesley University, Ms. McKenna talked about the lack of understanding about nonprofits she encountered when she moved into the corporate sector. She noted that of the foundation heads of the Fortune 100 companies, only 3% had nonprofit experience. And, that most had spent a good portion of their working lives within the corporation whose foundation they were now leading.

Overall, she felt our sector had a lot of work to do teaching the corporate sector about the nonprofit sector. (I agree. And government too.). Joking, she mentioned that PowerPoint presentations with lots of graphs and charts were very influential tools in corporate culture.

But never just assume lack of knowledge about your issues or the sector… make sure that you know who you are talking to. Remember to do your research on the background of your grants officer.

Related posts:

How we got the grant Part 1

How we got the grant Part 2

You can hear a lot by listening

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