Finding nonprofit grants can be a challenging but rewarding process. Grants can provide much-needed funding for your organization's programs and initiatives, allowing you to diversify your income stream and make a greater impact in your community. In case you're still unsure about adding grants to your nonprofit's development plan, consider this: in the most recently reported tax year, 26,935 foundations made 499,583 grants to nonprofit organizations across the United States with contributions totaling $77.1 billion.
It’s helpful to understand the different kinds of nonprofit funders that exist and some trends around their grantmaking activity. In general, grants to nonprofits come from foundations, corporations, and government agencies. Some common foundation types are mentioned below, including links to additional information on each foundation type:
Private foundations: These foundations are typically funded by a single source, such as a family or an individual. Private foundations are often established to support a specific cause or set of causes. Note that family foundations, which are a type of private foundation, can be more difficult to approach as they often won't accept unsolicited funding requests.
Public foundations: These foundations are charities supported by various sources, such as foundations, individuals, corporations, or public entities, and use their funds to make grants.
Community foundations: These foundations are created to support the needs and interests of a specific geographic area. Donated funds from individual community members and businesses are typically pooled and used to support local nonprofits.
Corporate foundations: These foundations are established by corporations and typically make grants to nonprofits that align with their interests and priorities.
The graphs below include a breakdown of grantmaker types, number of associated foundations, average number of grantees, and average grant amount. As you can see, the vast majority of grantmakers are private foundations, though they do have a smaller average grant size than other types of grantmaking organizations.
|Number of foundations
|Average number of grantees
|Average grant amount
For an in-depth look and analysis of foundation grantmaking activity, see our article, What kinds of nonprofits do foundations support.
In addition to foundations, there are 26 federal agencies that make grants to nonprofit organizations. In fact, the federal government is one of the largest grantmakers in the United States.
There are several types of grants offered by funders for you to consider, depending on your organization's needs. Here's a list of some common grant types with links to additional resources:
Now that you know what kinds of organizations make nonprofit grants, and have a sense of the different types of grants available, it’s time to start researching potential funders. Here are a few strategies and resources that can help:
Look for local funders within your area: A great place to start is by checking out funders in your city or region. Talk with other local nonprofits and conduct research into which foundations support your cause locally. You can also check to see if there's a community foundation serving your area that has resources available for grant seekers.
Use online databases to identify good-fit foundations and grants: Websites such as Cause IQ allow you to search past grants to a specific nonprofit cause, and can help you find foundations that align with your mission. You can search for foundations based on the characteristics of their grant recipients, see where your peers get their grants from, and do in-depth research into the grantmaking activity of foundations you're interested in.
To see what grants are currently available for a specific funder, check out GrantWatch where you'll find application details, including eligibility requirements, deadlines, and other submission guidelines.
Find out which federal grants you're eligible for: Visit Grants.gov to find and apply for federal grants. The site allows you to search for grants by subject area, eligibility, and other criteria. Keep in mind that federal grants are fiercely competitive and have very specific eligibility requirements, so be sure to carefully review the guidelines for each grant before applying.
Once you’ve identified a potential funder (or funders) for your organization and have confirmed you're eligible to apply for one of their grants, be sure to:
Tailor your grant proposals: When applying for a grant, it's important to tailor your proposal to the specific interests and priorities of the grantmaker. Review the grantmaker's website and any published materials carefully to understand their funding priorities and the types of projects they support. Make sure to address these priorities in your proposal and explain how your organization's work aligns with them.
You may want to consider hiring a professional grant writer to increase your chances of receiving funding. Websites like Upwork and Fiverr allow you to hire freelance grant writers that fit your organization's budget.
Build relationships with grantmakers: Building relationships with grantmakers can be a key factor in securing funding. Attend grantmaker events and networking opportunities, and reach out to grantmakers to introduce your organization and learn more about their funding interests.
Keep track of deadlines and requirements: Foundation grants often have specific deadlines and requirements for application submissions. Make sure to carefully review these requirements and follow all instructions to increase your chances of being considered for a grant. It's a good idea to set up a grants calendar with alerts and reminders to ensure you don't miss any important deadlines.
There are several software options available to help with grants management. A simple Excel spreadsheet can work for basic grant tracking. Or, you might want to invest in more robust grant management software that is offered by websites like Wizehive, Kindful, or Granthub.
Finding grants for your nonprofit organization can be a time-consuming process, but the potential benefits are well worth the effort. By doing in-depth research to identify the right funders for your organization, submitting carefully-crafted grant proposals, and conducting thorough follow-up, you can increase your chances of securing the funding you need to make a positive impact in your community.
Cause IQ digitizes and cleans electronic and paper / scanned Form 990s for over 1.8 million IRS-registered tax-exempt organizations. For the breakdown of grantmaking organizations, we looked at grantmakers with total grant amounts made to governments, organizations, and individuals above $25,000. This eliminates small foundations that our customers typically won't approach for grants. We also excluded single-organization support organizations from the analysis.
We used NTEE codes to determine foundation type, with private foundations being T20, community foundations being T31, corporate foundations being T21, and public foundations being T30. Cause IQ uses a combination of proprietary algorithms and IRS data to determine nonprofit NTEE codes.
Article originally published on December 28, 2022.