(Prepared by Angela Johnson, Corporate Relations, Duke University)

Types of Giving Entities

Community Foundation:

These are publicly supported organizations whose grant making corpus is made up of funds from many donors. These foundations usually give to a range of non-profits in a particular geographic area. Most often, grants are made by board members who represent the local community.

Independent/Family Foundation:

Usually derive their assets from an individual or family. These foundations often have independent boards and may be under the voluntary direction of family members. Independent/family foundations commonly have broad charters that allow a range of giving activities. Some operate with geographic and/or field of interest limits (e.g. Ford, Keck, Kresge).

Operating Foundations:

These foundations maintain a fund or endowment, but have a primary focus of funding a particular operation of research, social welfare or program determined by their governing body or charter. These foundations usually make few grants to other organizations (e.g. J. Paul Getty Trust).

Corporate Foundation:

These entities are legally independent from the corporation that operates to make charitable contributions. These foundations derive their funds from a profit-making company. Most often, the board includes officers of the company and those with no corporate affiliation (e.g. AT&T Foundation, GE Fund).

Public Charitable Trust:

These foundations obtain their assets from multiple donors. This type of foundation can receive gifts and make grants. Their grant making is usually focused on one particular area (e.g. American Heart Association). Public charities are defined in Section 509(a)(1-4) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Donor-Advised Fund:

A charitable fund, usually part of a community foundation, which has donor-defined giving parameters (e.g. giving only to a single policy issue such as public elementary education).

Direct Corporate Giving Program:

A program within a corporation used to coordinate charitable giving.

Types of Contributions

Endowment Funding:

Funding provided by a donor to permanently establish and run a program (e.g. scholarships, fellowships, professorships, lecture series) or facility. Endowment funds are invested and a percentage of the return provides operational funding. Most often, endowments are named for their donors.

Bricks and Mortar/Capital Grant:

Funding for a capital expenditure, usually for a building or construction project.

Challenge Grant:

A grant paid on the condition that the recipient institution raises additional funds from other donors. The challenge grant provides a stated fraction of the total fundraising goal. This type of grant is meant to stimulate others to contribute to a program.

Gift In-Kind (GIK, In-Kind Gift):

Related to corporations and foundations, GIKs are usually donations or awards of equipment such as computer hardware & software, laboratory instrumentation etc.


A pledge marks the commitment of a donor's support. A pledge is often payable over a period of 3-5 years in predetermined amounts.


Sponsorship support is linked to marketing efforts to benefit a company. In most cases, sponsorship is sought for conferences and special events that give corporations exposure to new audiences.

Sponsored Research:

This type of contribution is directed to a particular area of research or to a specific research project. Specific objectives and time frames are set as terms for this support.

Matching Gifts:

Corporations determine if they will maintain a matching gift policy for their employees' charitable contributions. Some corporations will only match gifts to education and not other non-profit organizations. Matching ratios vary. Most annual giving offices are responsible for this fundraising activity since it is based on individual giving.

Proposal Terms

Form 990-PF:

An IRS form used to list the charitable giving of private and corporate foundations. Items listed in the 990-PF include foundation assets, receipts, expenditures, compensation of officers and grants.

Indirect Costs (Overhead):

Indirect costs are commonly defined as those that are incurred for common or joint objectives, and which cannot be identified readily and specifically with a particular project (e.g. cost of heating and air conditioning in rooms and labs used by research project staff). Corporations and most foundations generally do not provide funding for these costs.

Principal Investigator (PI): The PI will, officially, oversee the grant submission process and, if funded, the management of the grant program. This status is usually restricted to a permanent faculty member.

Request for Proposals (RFP): RFPs are usually issued by corporations and foundations to solicit proposals focusing on a particular subject matter or problem. In many cases, RFPs are sent to a limited number of institutions.

Cost Sharing: Cost sharing is that portion of a project's costs, direct or indirect, not borne by the sponsor. These costs may be contributed by the institution or by third parties.

Other Fundraising Terms

Stewardship (Donor Relations):

A stewardship plan should include the timely acknowledgement of a grant and strategies to maintain a meaningful relationship with the donor. Approaches to stewardship include: follow-up appointments & campus visits with donors, the prompt filing of reports by the PI, special grant updates (e.g. press releases, publications), and, in some cases, special events to recognize the donors.

501( c ) (3):

This is the section of the Internal Revenue Code which defines non-profit, charitable, tax-exempt organizations. The College has a letter from the IRS stating this status.

Site Visit:

When a program officer of a private foundation or corporate foundation visits an institution onsite to learn first-hand about the program or proposal that is being considered for funding. A site-visit can also occur after a proposal has been funded. This is a regular practice for foundations and larger corporations.

Program Officer: A representative of a larger foundation or corporate foundation who assists grant seekers with defining whether there is a good match for funding an institution. Program officers usually focus on grants in a particular subject area (e.g. education, community, arts). A program officer may also give feedback to the institution during the proposal development process.


Systematic data collection with the goal of generalizable knowledge.