Policies | BNSF Railway Foundation


I. Mission

The BNSF Railway Foundation (the “Foundation”) supports organizations and programs that support and improve the general welfare and quality of life in the communities in which BNSF Railway Company operates.

II. Criteria

The Foundation makes grants to charitable organizations in support of general operating expenses, as well as specific programs, services, and projects. Strong preference is given to requests associated with education, youth, and civic services.

Contributions are limited to non-profit, tax-exempt organizations that have obtained IRS status under Section 501(c)(3), Section 170(b), or Section 511(a), as applicable. Proof of an organization’s status must be received before a contribution to the organization can be considered.

Potential grantees must have a broad purpose and impact; demonstrate program effectiveness and credibility; be sustainable; and serve or impact the communities in which BNSF operates. For example:

  • Have significant BNSF employee participation in the organization or its programs
  • Be in close proximity to BNSF operations or in an area of a state where BNSF is the only railroad or major company
  • Engage in programs that are related to the railroad industry
  • Be engaged in programs that are for a charitable purpose and clearly align with the BNSF Railway Foundation mission’s statement.

III. Eligible and Ineligible Organizations and Projects

The BNSF Railway Foundation does not fund any of the following:

  • Direct support, including travel funds, for individuals or families
  • Religious or faith-based organizations, unless the program does not promote a specific religion or faith and is not restricted to populations of specific religions or faiths
  • Organizations that have a written policy of discrimination against individuals because of their race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or veteran status
  • Athletic teams and fraternal, veteran, social, alumni, or labor organizations, such as university alumni groups, sororities/fraternities, labor unions, exclusive membership clubs, etc. (the Foundation does support organizations that serve veterans, provided the organization is a 501(c)(3) charity under IRS rules)
  • Health programs and organizations, at a national level
  • Corporate memberships or contributions to Chambers of Commerce, taxpayer associations and other bodies whose activities are expected to directly benefit the corporation
  • Political campaigns or lobbying organizations, or organizations supporting the candidacy of a particular individual
  • Sponsorship of fundraising events (including benefit dinners, auctions, sports competitions, etc.) or goodwill advertising
  • Tables and/or tickets to gala fundraisers that would violate IRS law governing self-dealing
  • Activities of organizations serving primarily their own membership
  • Private foundations
  • General endowments
  • Programs beyond BNSF's state areas of interest, or beyond its geographical areas of service (Please refer to the BNSF Network Map to determine if your organization is within our geographic areas of service.)

Note: Contributions to tribal governments are limited to those listed in the current Federal Register publication of the list of Indian Entities Recognized and Eligible to Receive Services from the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs.

IV. Application Process

Grant applications are reviewed monthly, so there is no deadline to apply; however, if an organization has a specific funding timeline, they are strongly urged to apply well in advance. If additional information is needed, it could take up to one year for a grant to be approved.

Unless they have additional data relevant to the proposal (such as updated financial figures), organizations are asked not to contact the Foundation during the processing period as it could delay the process. Organizations are notified once a decision has been made regarding their grant request.

BNSF presents a check to the Rocky Boy Reservation in Montana.