Foundation and Corporate Research
by Beth Havens, Senior Prospect Researcher at Cincinnati Children's Hospital
Foundation and corporate research can be “easier” than individual prospect research in many ways. These funders, unlike individuals, usually state what they are interested in funding and tell prospective grantees how to apply.
Many foundations have websites with their giving interests detailed. They usually note if they accept applications, what the process is, and what types of organizations and projects they support. For those foundations that do not spell out their interests and processes, you may need to use one of several free or subscription-based databases that provide information on Request for Proposals (RFPs) issued by funders, grant histories (search by keyword, geography, recipients, year, etc.), or access to their 990s (list of directors, staff, and general process/deadline information).
For corporate research, again, the company website is the best place to start for general information on the business, locations, and the leadership/board. See the list below for some additional sources of corporate information. Keep in mind that private companies can be more difficult to research! To determine giving interests, look for Giving, Corporate or Social Responsibility, Community, Citizenship, or something similar. If the information isn’t obvious, do a search on their website for “Giving” or “Contribution” and review their News or Media pages for recent press releases about recent contributions or their recent Social Responsibility annual report. Some companies, in addition to a corporate giving program, have a corporate foundation with its own website that state guidelines, application processes, and deadlines.
Once you have found the information you need, be sure to document it in your database. Are you tracking philanthropic interests, giving to other organizations, application deadlines, key decision makers, and other key data points? Consider creating profile or summary templates similar to individual profiles that cover the information your gift officers need to know – what do they support, what is the process, and who, if anyone, in your organization is connected to them.
Below are some resources, both free and paid, that may help with your foundation and corporate research. One of your favorites not listed? Let us know in the comments!
Foundation Directory Online (Subscription). Check your public library. In Cincinnati, access to Foundation Directory Online Professional is available for use at the main branch.
Philanthropy News Digest RFP Bulletin Sign up for RFP email alerts or search RFPs by subject or keyword.
GuideStar (Free and Subscription). Search for organization’s 990.
ProPublica’s Nonprofit Explorer (Free). Search 990s by organization, people, or full-text.
Grant Forward (Subscription). Funding opportunities.
GrantStation (Subscription). Free RFP alerts.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy (Subscription includes access to GrantStation).
ProposalCENTRAL Science/research focused. Can review RFPs/opportunities for free.
Other science/research focused databases (subscription usually institution-based): PIVOT and SPIN.
Investopedia – Financial Term Dictionary
Corporate Research Project Older resource, but could be helpful in pointing you in the right direction, especially with public company and SEC filings.
Hoover's (Subscription). Corporate profiles.
Equilar (Subscription). Has a product targeted to Fundraising organizations.
Local business journals.
Local public library resources. Likely will need a library card and/or PIN.
Example of resources available online at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County:
◊Magazine and newspapers articles
◊Cincinnati Business Courier (local business journal)
◊ReferenceUSA: database on US companies and US households
PrivCo (Subscription). Private companies.
BizStats Small business valuations. Look for Rule of Thumb ratios. There are books on business valuations and Rules of Thumb. Check your local library.
SIC Code Lookup (Standard Industrial Classification Codes).
Corporate Social Responsibility Newswire Check out the Philanthropy & Corporate Contributions section.
Ohio Secretary of State Business Search
US Securities and Exchange Commission Search