Nonprofit grants are essential to the success of any nonprofit organization. They can be used for a variety of things, such as funding a specific program or event, purchasing equipment, or paying staff members. Applying for a grant can be a daunting process. Understandably, the mountains of paperwork, endless hours of waiting, and relentless rejections can make your nonprofit steer clear of joining the process entirely. But we’re here to give you some hope, explain why it’s worth all the hassle, and doesn’t have to be as difficult as it might first appear.
Follow our pro tips and five simple steps to help you figure out how to find and apply for these nonprofit grants effectively and efficiently.
What are Nonprofit Grants?
Nonprofit grants, often known as fundraising grants, are non-repayable financial donations made to a nonprofit organization. A foundation, company, or government entity is often the source of a grant. Many nonprofits support themselves through grants received throughout the year.
Nonprofit Grants Essentials
Although competition is fierce among nonprofits to see who will snag a valuable foundation or government grant, it’s always worth applying when done right. Once your nonprofit passes the strict eligibility requirements, you’ll benefit from non-repayable funds awarded by the grantor, which will be invaluable to your organization and fundraising success.
So, let’s get started and figure out the whats, whys, and hows of the nonprofit grant application process.
Why Are Nonprofit Grants Important?
There are countless benefits to applying for nonprofit grants besides just the obvious funding.
Nonprofit grants are a great way to:
- Get valuable free funding for your organization, such as financing an event and/or programs, purchasing equipment, or paying staff members.
- Show your donors and supporters that your organization is reliable and legitimate. This adds more value to your nonprofit’s cause, which can boost donations.
- Diversify your organization’s income streams. Avoid relying entirely on a single source of income and create new chances for your company to grow, connect with new clients, and explore new options.
- Expand your organization. This can be costly, but nonprofit grants can enhance your organization’s while providing funds to support various projects.
- Take the pressure off. Nonprofit grants provide a safety net in case one of your revenue streams fails, especially in uncertain financial times. Profit from non-repayable government funding that will be vital to your fundraising success.
Different Types of Nonprofit Grants
Finding the best nonprofit grant to fit your organization’s needs is crucial. Granting organizations generally have clear guidelines and will only award grants to organizations that clearly fit into these guidelines. Don’t waste your nonprofit’s time applying for a grant if you don’t meet the criteria. Here is a list of the four most popular and accessible grants for nonprofits.
Nonprofit Grants #1: Project or Initiative Support
Project support grants are given to nonprofit organizations to help carry out the operations of a specific, well-defined project. These initiatives will most often have agreed-upon outcomes or results and timelines. Keep in mind that these awards only sometimes cover administrative costs, and detailed reporting and follow-up is generally required to show your initiative’s impact. This is the most common type of grant, as grantors like to see there money achieving clear outcomes.
Nonprofit Grants #2: Operational Funding
Operating support grants are given to nonprofits to help with general overhead and administrative costs. This type of grant is less common and is often awarded to a new organization or one that is growing its programs and services.
Nonprofit Grants #3: Technology Grants
Nonprofits look for cutting-edge technology to boost efficiency and fundraising efforts. Technology, IT, and software grants are on the rise and are helping organizations to improve their IT skills, online fundraising, and expand mission awareness. The premise is that the more technologically equipped you are, the more efficiently you can achieve your goals.
Nonprofit Grants #4: Matching Grants
Matching nonprofit grants are awarded when an organization raises a specific amount of the grant. In most cases, once this amount has been achieved, the grant-givers will offer to equal the amount of the other funding sources. Matching donations are often meant to give incentives for expanding fundraising efforts or in-kind capacity inside the organization.
How to Find Nonprofit Grants in 5 Simple Steps
Once you’ve identified what type of nonprofit grant you want to apply for, how do you go about securing the funding? Follow our five simple steps to point you in the right direction.
- Create a Budget Plan
It’s very unlikely that an institution will award your nonprofit a grant without knowing exactly how and what the money will be spent on. By creating a budget plan ahead of your actual application, you will gain an understanding of how much money you need and the grant parameters to look for. Later this budget can be tweaked to meet each grant proposal’s guidelines.
By carefully mapping out this crucial budget plan, not only will you make for a better grant application, but your nonprofit will determine exactly what kind of funding it needs.
- Outlining the project or effort for which you need funding (include everything such as travel costs, supplies, staff time, services, and any other administrative costs)
- Calculating the precise amount required to support the project
- Generating a line-by-line budget that covers all the funding that you intend to request and use from the grant
- Search Far and Wide
Competition is high when it comes to applying for nonprofit grants. With this said, there are countless grant-givers out there ready and able to help your nonprofit with funding. So, what are you waiting for?
Your nonprofit grant search can start small and local to increase the probability of being awarded. Although it’s tempting to go for the big grants straight away, your organization is much more likely to receive funding from local companies and small foundations opting to support community needs. This is also a great way to build relationships and credibility in the local community and paves the way for your organization to apply for larger nonprofit grants in the future.
Here are a list of the most popular search engines for nonprofit grants:
- Grants.gov: A reasonably simple website for nonprofits interested in applying for government funds.
- Grant Watch: A useful search engine for both government and private foundation funding. Nonprofits and organizations of all types and sizes can look for grants that meet their specific requirements.
- Foundation Center: A particularly valuable website for its wide directory and free materials. Foundation Center is the principal online source for grants offered through private foundations, corporate foundations, and other nonprofits that accept grant requests.
- Google.org: Google grants for nonprofits have more than $1 billion in funds to hand out over the next five years, which makes it a great place to start your grant search. Nonprofits can apply for tech funding on a rolling basis through their Google Impact Challenge page.
- Identify Which Nonprofit Grants to Apply for
When looking for nonprofit grants, it’s essential to search for institutions that share your organization’s mission and values. Otherwise, you risk jeopardizing your brand, and you could lose donors and supporters. Before you apply for any nonprofit grants, be sure to do your research about the potential grant institution you are interested in.
- Determine if Your Organization Fits the Grantor’s Criteria
Don’t waste your nonprofit’s time applying for a grant if you don’t meet the criteria. It’s vital to do your research and make sure you match the necessary requirements in order to stand a chance of being awarded funding.
Remember that different grantors vary in their requirements. For example, government grants will be quite different from private foundations and other nonprofits.
- Prepare the Best Application
You can never be too prepared when it comes to getting all your documents in order when applying for a nonprofit grant. Make your grant application process more efficient and effective by preparing these documents in advance:
- Strategy and project plans
- Clearly defining your mission and vision statements
- Gathering required tax and accounting documents
- Listing major accomplishments to date
- Mentioning other organizations that you collaborate with to solve problems
Take the time needed to carefully pull together the requested data, and don’t skip any steps in the grant process. Many grant applications are penalized or excluded for not closely matching the stated requirements.
Be sure to:
- Always double-check the application deadline, as late grant applications will not be accepted.
- Don’t skip any steps in the application process, even if they seem repetitive.
- Present the application in the requested format, with all required attachments.
This may be the moment to hire a professional grant writer to help you with the process and increase your organization’s chances of securing financial support.
Conclusions on Securing Nonprofit Grants
Although the nonprofit grant process can be time-consuming and stressful, the benefits strongly outweigh the drawbacks. Bear in mind that once you receive your first nonprofit grant, it’ll be easier and more accessible the next time. Being accepted by one grant-giver serves as social evidence not only for your supporters but also for other institutions. As a result, your donors will be more likely to support your cause.