About the Fund
Enhanced quality of life for people in New Hampshire ensured by strong, resilient and effective nonprofits in partnership with government and business.
The Corporate Fund, in partnership with the NH Charitable Foundation, galvanizes New Hampshire's leading corporate citizens to fund programs to strengthen the management and leadership of nonprofit organizations throughout the state.
It is interesting to note that in 1982, nonprofits were operating in conditions not unlike those of today—financial support from the public sector was decreasing, and nonprofits were expected to provide more services to more people with fewer resources. This situation caught the eye of noted New Hampshire businessman Walter J. Dunfey who was then serving as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of what was then called the New Hampshire Charitable Fund, now the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. On behalf of the board and in collaboration with New Hampshire Charitable Fund President William Hart, Dunfey reached out to some of the state's largest and most generous corporations, and proposed that they pool a portion of their charitable dollars to focus entirely on improving the overall management and effectiveness of New Hampshire's nonprofits. This idea resonated within the business community, and The Corporate Fund was established with nine founding members in November 1982. "The basic objective of The Corporate Fund is to increase the effectiveness of nonprofit organizations by funding projects that will strengthen their management and improve their long term financial stability," said Dunfey. "Such a program is needed because these organizations are being asked to provide more services today than ever before while traditional government support is being reduced." This partnership was, like so many things, unique to New Hampshire, and to this day remains the only known collaboration of its kind that involves corporations working jointly to focus on strengthening nonprofit management and leadership.
Using pooled resources to make grants to nonprofits to support their capacity-building has been a cornerstone of The Corporate Fund's activity since its beginning. The Corporate Fund made over 750 grants totaling more than $4 million to New Hampshire nonprofits between 1982 and 2008. Grants were made to organizations working in all areas of the nonprofit sector including arts and culture, health and human services, environment, education, economic development, civic engagement and public affairs and supported a range of capacity-building activities such as strategic planning, staff and board training, strengthening resource development capacity, enhanced communication activities, membership development and more. In 2008, faced with shrinking resources available for grant making, The Corporate Fund members needed to re-think how they could still add value to the sector in a different way. They decided to re-structure the program to be able to assist the greatest number of nonprofits with their available resources. The Corporate Fund now contracts directly with the New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits to provide targeted programs designed specifically to strengthen nonprofits across the state. Rather than a handful of small grants to a few organizations, that same investment can now reach hundreds of New Hampshire nonprofit staff and board leaders, providing them with the opportunity to learn from some of the best local and national presenters around. While this relationship with the NH Center for Nonprofits makes up the bulk of The Corporate Fund's current grant making, members continue to look for other opportunities to support nonprofit capacity-building activities, supporting projects like NonprofitNext and skilled volunteer engagement.