I am currently hired as a research track scientist not funded directly by the university. As part of my contract agreement, I am required to secure my own funding in order to remain hired. However, government funding has dried up drastically over the last few years, and my best and just about only shot is to seek private sponsorships. A brief conversation with the department chair has confirmed that the department doesn't really care too much about the source of funding as much as whether I can get sufficient funding or not.
Given all of this, does anyone have any suggestions for a list of private individuals or organizations willing to fund basic research in theoretical physics without any immediate practical applications? How should I go about contacting such private sponsors, and what is the proper protocol for asking them for money? It appears most funders in the private sector care mostly about getting short term commercial monetary returns from what they prefer to call an "investment" instead of funding. How can I encourage them to think about longer term benefits which might take as many as a few generations to reap?
In my experience, sarcastic remarks along the lines of Benjamin Franklin's "What's the use of a newborn baby?" or Michael Faraday's "One day you may tax it." go on very badly to people in the private sector.