Foundation Partners Fundraising Series, Part 2: 3 Ways to Find Potential Partners

This PLTW Blog entry is an excerpt from the PLTW Fundraising Toolkit. You can download the full toolkit here.

Ready to start seeking out foundation partners but don’t know where to begin? Below, we’ve outlined several key tactics that can help you find potential foundation partners.

Community Foundations

Community foundations are grantmaking public charities dedicated to improving the lives of people in a defined local geographic area. Due to their focus on improving local communities, community foundations are often interested in supporting local education. Many communities throughout the U.S. have community foundations; we recommend using the Community Foundation Locator tool created by the Council on Foundations to research if there is a community foundation near you.

Local Private Foundations

Sometimes private foundations aren’t the easiest to find, especially if they do not have full-time staff or a website. However, here are our top ideas for finding local private foundations in your community:

  • First try an online search for “foundation and [insert your community – try your town, city, region, and then state]” and see what the search engine comes up with! You may be surprised at the results.
  • Talk to your community foundation staff, as they can sometimes help identify local private foundations. Foundations in a community or region generally know each other, so if you have made a contact at one, ask if they know of other foundations that may be interested in supporting your PLTW program.
  • Stay current with your local media outlets, which likely cover stories about local foundations’ support in the community.
  • Talk to your regional and local banks. Some banks serve as trustees of charitable trusts of deceased individuals. In this role, a bank manages and administers grants from trusts that are endowed through that bank. These trusts are very similar to the way private foundations work, so just think of the bank staff as foundation staff. Ask your local or regional bank staff about whether they administer trusts, and if so, request a meeting with the trust administrator to determine if your school and PLTW program matches the focus and funding requirements of any of those trusts.
  • Check out Foundation Directory Online. This is a searchable database that provides comprehensive and accurate information on U.S. grantmakers and their grants. To access the full suite of services provided by this database, you must pay a subscription service, but you can also use it for free at these libraries throughout the country.

Local United Way

United Ways are nonprofit “umbrella” organizations with many local affiliates across the country. They fundraise from individuals and local companies in the community, and in turn, distribute the contributed funds to local nonprofits and special United Way initiatives. Depending on the focus of your local United Way, the organization might be interested in supporting your PLTW program. Use the United Way locator to determine if your community has an active United Way.