MSU Social Work student creates web platform to connect non-profits with corporate giving programs

May 9, 2023 - Brandon Drain

James RawsonMichigan State University School of Social Work MSW student , James Rawson, has embarked on a project to connect non-profit organizations with corporate community giving programs. Rawson's project aims to create a centralized web-based platform that will make it easier for non-profits to identify and access funding opportunities in the mid-Michigan area.

Rawson's idea for a centralized web-based platform came to fruition two years ago when he and a friend decided to manually comb through the Yellow Pages to find businesses with corporate giving programs for a non-profit he once worked at. "We figured it out by going to the Yellow Pages and looking in the 'about' section of every single business to find their corporate giving," Rawson recalls. This long, arduous process is one of many things non-profits must do to accurately locate funding opportunities.

Since then, Rawson has been working hard to develop a web-based platform that would provide accessibility and connection to available corporate community giving programs. Through his own experience, he recognizes the time constraints that non-profit agencies face while researching funding opportunities and highlights the financial distress faced by non-profit organizations in Michigan. Rawson emphasizes the need to improve social capital to foster economic development and the role of a web-based platform in connecting non-profit agencies with corporate community giving programs.

"To address the challenges, we are making it accessible to everyone," Rawson explains. "We also want to make sure that every business that has a giving program is in the database."

Rawson is passionate about his work and is funding the project solely on his own -- which means that he must find new ways to optimize cost, time and find ways to spread the word about the developing platform.

Despite the challenges, Rawson is excited about the connections he has made through his work. With two years in development, liaising with over 80 various local corporations and businesses, Rawson has cultivated a profound appreciation for the focused, independent nature of his work. "We're forming connections, forming relationships and feeling trust," said Rawson. He believes that by investing in different programs, the Lansing area can give hope to its residents and turn its economic fortunes around.

"I feel like the Lansing area is on a downward spiral," Rawson explains. "I think if we're investing in these different programs, we give hope to the residents that things are getting better."

Rawson's initiative is a critical step towards improving the accessibility and connection between non-profit agencies and corporate community giving programs. For more on Rawson’s project, please visit his website: