Grants are an important source of funding for nonprofits and can go a long way towards helping your organization further its cause. If you’re new to the nonprofit world, you may be wondering how to apply for the many grants made available each year from various sources. Here, we’ll walk you through different types of grants, look into ways to research them and point you towards some great nonprofit fundraising platforms.
Unlike loans, grants are donations that you don’t have to worry about paying back. While the idea almost sounds too good to be true, you might be surprised at how many institutions, groups and people offer financial backing for good causes. Keep in mind, though, that some grants have parameters to ensure that nonprofits use them in specific ways.
Grants are available from a wide variety of sources. Some of the most common ones include the following.
Government Grants: There are plenty of grants available through governments at the federal, state and even local levels.
Foundation Grants: Foundation grants come in several forms, such as family foundations that are funded by a particular family or private foundations run by individuals. Other types of grants include those from operating private foundations, which not only give out funding but also use it to achieve their own objectives.
You can also apply for grants from public foundations that raise money for specific causes and distribute it to nonprofits that have similar goals. Community foundations are another option; they raise and distribute money for causes in defined geographic locations.
Corporate Grants: Many large companies, such as Pepsi, Samsung and Citigroup, set aside a certain percentage of their profits each year to donate to nonprofits.
Federated Funds: Federated funds are groups that are formed and cooperatively run by a group, organization or business with a common goal. These funds raise money and distribute it to different nonprofits that fit their individually defined criteria.
How to Find Nonprofit Grant Opportunities
The world is full of nonprofit grant opportunities — one of the most time-consuming elements can be figuring out which grants to apply to first. But when it comes to narrowing down your research focus, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Defining the Goals and Purpose
Many foundations are geared towards providing funds for organizations that share a common goal. It’s important that your nonprofit’s mission statement outlines the goals of your organization in a clear, specific way so a foundation can see right away how your mission aligns with its own. Your mission statement should not only indicate what you want to accomplish but should also explain who or what you aim to help.
Many organizations strive to help a specific group of people who share common traits or life experiences. Others are geared towards causes such as animals or the environment. When you’re looking for grants, you may find more success if you start with foundations whose goals align with your own. Your donor may want to know that, by helping your organization, it’s also helping to further its own set goals and purposes.
While not all grants focus on nonprofits in a specific city, state or region, there are plenty that do. You may be able to increase your odds of success by applying to grants that serve your area specifically. Because the limitations on these grants can sometimes be stricter, they may attract fewer applicants — which makes it easier to get noticed.
People like working with others they know and trust. A little networking can go a long way when it comes to lining up potential supporters. Even if a new connection doesn’t end up donating to your cause, they may be able to introduce you to other contacts who will. Additionally, the better known your organization and its accomplishments become in the nonprofit world, the easier it can be to demonstrate to donors that you’ll put their money to good use.
Resources for Finding Grants for Nonprofits
Ready to start looking for potential nonprofit grant opportunities? Luckily, there are several nonprofit fundraising platforms that make finding potential candidates much easier. Get started by checking out these options.
Grants.gov: When it comes to federal grants, Grants.gov is an excellent resource. The website includes an extensive learning center to help you get familiar with the grant-application process and a searchable index to direct you to the right grants for your nonprofit’s needs.
Candid: Candid is a collaboration between the organizations formerly known as GuideStar and the Foundation Center. Candid’s search database is among the most extensive in the world when it comes to nonprofits, foundations and grants.
GrantWatch: GrantWatch is another solid website that can help connect you to various grant opportunities for your nonprofit. It also runs another site called YouHelp, which is geared towards crowdfunding. YouHelp only works with certified U.S. nonprofits and makes it easy to get your campaign in front of potential online donors from around the world.
Google Impact Challenges: Google gives away millions of dollars each year to various causes through its Google Impact Challenges program. Every few months, the company announces a new “challenge,” which is a specific social issue it wants to address. It then accepts applications from nonprofits and other social organizations explaining how they would use the money to help address the challenge in question. The winners each receive a share of the prize money, along with support from Google for up to the following three years.
Council on Foundations: If you’re looking for information on foundations in your area, review the Council on Foundations’ community foundation finder. There, you’ll find an interactive map of local foundations in different locations all over the country. State and local websites also tend to be great resources for checking out grants and foundations in your area.