The Pros and Cons of a Corporate Grants Program

Learn how to streamline your grant management process with Submittable. Our free guide, Maximizing Impact Through Improved Grants Management, provides you with key trends and technological operation strategies that will help to enhance your foundation or organization’s mission today. 

Offering corporate grants is one way to give to businesses or nonprofit organizations that your company wants to support. Through the grant application process, you’ll have the opportunity to handpick the causes that you’re willing to support, and even get in on promising projects at the ground level.

However, before you get started, there are both pros and cons to running a corporate grants program that you should consider.

Pro: Increased Brand Awareness

One of the primary incentives for any type of corporate giving is increased brand awareness. When your company offers a grants program in support of a meaningful cause, it gains a reputation for being generous, supportive, and forward-thinking. Your grants program draws attention to your company in a positive way. It shines a spotlight on the good that you’re doing as you help fund other projects.

You can tailor your grants program to emphasize anything that’s important to your company. As a major food manufacturer, you might offer business grants to small restaurants. If your cosmetics company wants to emphasize its eco-friendly approach to product manufacturing, you could provide nonprofit grants to organizations that work to protect the environment. Designing a program that prioritizes things that are meaningful to your company will help solidify the brand image that you want to convey.

Con: Negative Associations To a Controversial Cause

Some types of charitable giving are perceived as controversial. When selecting a recipient for your corporate grant, it’s important that you examine all aspects of your choice. Make sure your company is willing to fully back that recipient and their project, even in the face of a potential backlash. Some projects are obviously more controversial than others. However, the nature of your business will ultimately determine how much controversy you’re comfortable with.

If you’re running a chain of Christian bookstores, your company’s religious leanings are already well-established, and you should have no problem supporting religious causes. However, if your company doesn’t maintain a particular religious affiliation, you may find it easier to avoid taking a position in this particular area. Be mindful of any misconceptions or unfavorable associations that might be drawn from your choice of applicants. You can often sidestep this potential drawback by considering potential opposition to the cause.

Pro: Strategic Partnerships

Your corporate grants can open the door to many profitable partnerships. The small business that you lend a hand to may grow into a company that becomes a valuable client, supplier, or strategic partner. Through grant applications, you may even become aware of potential business opportunities with those that you don’t ultimately offer your grant to.

You also have the opportunity to partner with other companies within your program. Perhaps you’ll offer a grant in partnership with another corporation, so you can divide some of the cost associated with the grant, align yourself with a favorable partner, and enjoy the positive associations that come with this type of giving.

Con: Added Time and Expense

Running a grants program is no small task. As with any type of corporate giving, it’s important to balance the expense and time that you pour into the project with the benefits it produces. You’ll likely need a dedicated grant administrator on staff to handle all the complex steps involved in issuing and maintaining these grants. You’ll need to comb through applications, choose recipients, issue grants, and monitor use of the funds. You will also need to allocate the appropriate funds, determining where these grants fit in your budget.

Consider potential tax breaks for your charitable giving to help offset some of the expense. You may also want to study the impact that your grant program has on brand awareness and sales. You may find that your grant is paying you back more than you’d expected.

When done well, corporate grants can give your company a positive image boost while channeling some extra funds to a satisfying cause that is meaningful to everyone in your organization.

Better grant management starts with Submittable. Download our free guide, Maximizing Impact Through Improved Grants Management, to see what tips, trends, and strategies your foundation or organization can implement today to maximize the impact of your grants program.