Many companies offer charitable contributions programs which provide cash gifts, product donations and/or employee support to non-profit organizations. Companies do this not only to promote goodwill in the communities they serve but also to have charitable tax write-offs. Charitable contributions are known as “grants” and there is typically a grant application process that non-profit organizations must complete in order to be considered for funding. Here's how to find companies with charitable contributions programs:

Determine Funding Needed

First, identify the type and amount of funding your non-profit organization needs. Most companies fund non-profit organizations with programs or services in the areas of education, health care, at risk youth, performing arts, environment and other categories. Some companies fund more heavily in one area while awarding smaller grants for other programs. Grant awards can vary anywhere from $1,000 to $1,000,000 depending on the size, scope and duration of your program.

Some companies prefer to fund direct program costs which typically entail expenses for the program staff, materials, supplies and other program-related expenditures. Other companies will consider funding operational costs which including indirect expenses such as administrative staffing, office equipment purchases and rental payments. Some companies will fund both program and operational costs, while others will prefer to fund only “capital costs”. Capital costs are larger expenses incurred for the acquisition or renovation of building and property to expand the non-profit organization.

Target Large and Small Companies

Every year, Fortune Magazine provides a list ranking the top 500 companies in America based on sales and profitability. The majority of these companies have charitable contributions programs.

Here are just a few of the companies on the Fortune 500 list that provide grants:

General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, AT&T, Verizon Communications, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, McKesson, CVS Caremark, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, Home Depot, Proctor & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Chevron, Boeing and United Parcel Service.

View the full list by following the link in the Resources section.

You can also search online for charitable contributions companies. Companies often use different names to describe their charitable contributions programs. When you are searching for a particular company on-line, try keywords like “community involvement”, “community giving”, “community grants”, “community support”, “charitable giving” or “charitable donations” in addition to the company’s name to more easily find the information you’re seeking.

Research smaller companies in your region as well since they may also have charitable contributions programs. Contact each by phone or send a letter of inquiry first before submitting a full grant request or application.

Use Personal Contacts

Having personal or professional contacts at the companies you’re seeking funding from is a definite advantage. Your contacts can recommend your non-profit organization to their company's grant review committee and attest to the merits of your programs and services.

Note that it is common for larger companies to direct their charitable contributions programs at the local level, using community relations staff in regional and branch offices to review grant requests and make funding decisions. Get to know these local contacts, if possible, prior to submitting your grant request. This will help differentiate your funding request from the thousands of other requests that are received by companies every year.