Today we are going to talk about five ways you can obtain foundation grants for nonprofits. Nonprofit organizations are, of course, non-governmental organizations created to advocate for a particular social cause. Instead of distributing its income among its members in the form of profit, it dedicates its funds towards worthwhile programs and services that achieve a particular community-oriented goal. Because of this, governments usually exempt them from tax—specifically the money they receive. Typical nonprofit organizations can emphasize causes such as animal rights, education, job training, skill development, religion, research, domestic violence and so much more.
The majority of services nonprofits offer to the community are either free, on a sliding scale or in some cases free. In terms of income, most nonprofits are funded through individual giving campaigns, fundraising events (e.g., charity balls, raffles, etc.), bake sales and individual donors. Some nonprofits are fortunate enough to have contracts with a government agency to provide services to a particular segment of the community while others do not.
In any case, nonprofit organizations—provided they have obtained a 501c state from Internal Revenue Service—are eligible to receive grants from corporate foundations, the government, and even family foundations. Obtaining 501c status from the IRS can be a complicated and time-consuming process. My colleague Beverly is able to have a 501c3 process complete as little as six weeks. Don’t ask me how she does it. The only explanation is simply that she is a genius!
What Are Foundation Grants and Funding for Nonprofits?
Grants are financial support that is provided to an organization to support its activities. There are numerous grant providers, including local, regional and state governments, along with corporate, family, and private foundations. Each funding opportunity has varying eligibility requirements and funding priorities
They are strictly ruled by organizations to which they can give (almost always 501 c3 nonprofit rules) and are very restrictive in terms of nonprofits to which they give, funding priorities, programmatic areas, and geographic regions.
Most grants will require an organization to have 501(c)(3) status first. Some will allow 501(c)(4) organizations to apply. These grants won’t be given to someone looking to start an organization. The nonprofit must have been set up already and running with sufficient momentum before being eligible for a grant. Applying for a grant is more successful if it will be used to create a new program or to sustain an existing one.
The money is out there, but you need to do due diligence to secure grant funding. While there are national foundations that offer grants, the competition may be fierce and numerous. It is best to focus on small charities that center on a location.
For each geographical area, there are various types of grants that can support nonprofit organizations:
1.) Federal Grants
Funded by taxpayer money, official government organizations will be happy to help a nonprofit organization that aligns with their values and priorities, but the requirements may be strict. All federal grant opportunities can be found on grants.gov.
2.) Foundation Grants
These are organizations typically set up to support advocacy or to commemorate the legacy of a person. They are very supportive of very worthwhile nonprofits. The Foundationcenter.org (now candid.org), has an amazing set of search functionalities that are definitely worth looking at.
For first-time users, Candid can be a bit daunting. Fortunately, Candid has centers around the United States where they will provide training in how to navigate the system for FREE. Check the Candid website for more information. Once you’ve learned the system, they will allow you to use anytime for free—you simply have to pay for the printing costs of results. A small price to pay for this valuable resource.
3.) Individual Donors
It is less complicated to deal with a single person than an organization. Some wealthy benefactors want to support significant nonprofit organizations and even keep up their operating expenses. The challenge in finding these High Net Worth Individuals is Finding High Net Worth Individuals. My remaining suggestion is to pick a list of targeted foundations, print their board lists and circulate them among your board. They can either ask for an introduction or even better, I’ve found that writing a very brief (from the board member) letter on the behalf of the board member to be the most effective (I’ve also successfully used this tactic with governmental office).
A simple letter may go like this:
I enjoyed running to and speaking with you at the XXX charity vent. It was great to catch up. I know of your interest in improving academic achievement through art. I happened to run across an organization that is doing great breaking work in this field with great results. They would love to submit a concept paper/small proposal to xxx foundation. I’m happy to write the draft letter to you and you can edit as you see fit. I really appreciate the work in the community and XXXXX, has the tools and approach to bring about lasting, positive change. As always, I appreciate the work you do in the community.”
I wrote a similar letter on behalf of one of our county council members. He happily sent the letter and off it went. Within a week we received an invitation to submit a full proposal. We submitted, won, showed excellent results and within two years, we had a $1 million endowment from them.
4.) Corporate Sponsorship
Many companies have been devoting money for their organizational social responsibility aspect. They are always on the lookout for organizations that support valuable causes aligned to their corporate responsibility interests. Sponsorship.com is a great place to start.
5.) Google Grants
Google supports noble nonprofit organizations and you can apply anytime, but you need to meet their eligibility requirements. Competition is tough but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Working with a grant consultant can help you navigate the nuances of these processes.
As your nonprofit organization grows, you’ll need to be specific in how you obtain foundation grants and other funding sources. Without extensive industry experience and expertise, it can be difficult to secure funding. It is often best to hire professional grant writers who are specialists when it comes to applying for foundation grants and other funding for nonprofits.
Our team has won nearly $200 million+ in funding for our clients making us among some of the most successful in our field. Our years of experience can help improve the chances for grant approval to keep your nonprofit organization running. Please note: we only work with non-profit organizations with a budget of $1 million or more.
Interested in learning more? Contact me today and let’s talk!