There are many sources of revenue for nonprofits and one of the most popular is nonprofit grants. Let’s discuss what a nonprofit grant is and how to get access to one.
What Are Nonprofit Grants?
A nonprofit grant can be described as a subsidy, gift, contribution, or bounty provided by a government or institution for a specific purpose.
The provider is called the grantor, while the recipient is the grantee. The latter has to meet various conditions or criteria to qualify for the grant.
Some nonprofits receive funds for specific programs or purposes. For example, they may offer grants for the following support programs:
- Development programs or programs that make specific equipment or product.
- Nonprofit programs that develop shelters for animals on environmental protection programs.
- Programs that target specific demography such as a program that aims to benefit needy children somewhere.
Grantors may provide various types of financial support to nonprofits. Here are some good examples:
Operational Funding: Such grants are provided to cater to a particular nonprofit’s daily operational cost, which means it caters to the organization’s entire operations and not just a specific program.
Capital Injection: Some grants are provided as capital to fund developmental activities such as property rehabilitation, land purchase, or even fund construction activities.
Restricted Funding Or Program Development Funds: are grants that provide funding for the development of specific projects.
What Are The Advantages of Nonprofit Grants?
Advantages Of Nonprofit Grants
- Nonprofit Grants facilitate the development of large-scale projects in society that would otherwise not be possible without a sizable amount of money to fund them. They are commonly used to fund large structural projects.
- Nonprofit Grants may pave the way for more funding in the future, especially once a project is done and the nonprofit undertakes a different project.
- Nonprofit Grants are often publicly announced, and this is important for nonprofits because it advertises the project and provides visibility to other donors and grantors who may provide additional monetary injection.
Disadvantages Of Nonprofit Grants
- Writing a proposal that can win a grant requires impressive writing skills, often taking a lot of time to develop.
- It often takes a lot of time between grant approval and receiving the money in a bank account. This is because of the bureaucratic processes, which usually involve a lot of paperwork.
- Grants have conditions that the grantee has to follow strictly, such as stipulations on how the money should be used. Failure to follow such conditions often results in grant denial.
Factors To Consider Before Applying For Nonprofit Grants
There are no standard conditions that all grantors consider before funding a nonprofit, but each grantor will likely consider various factors.
You must narrow down the potential factors that may determine the grant application outcome before you apply. Here are some of the factors to consider:
- Does your nonprofit meet the conditions indicated by the grantor?
- If you will the grant, will you be in a position to invest the funds as indicated?
- Will your organization’s activities be consistent with your strategy, mission, and aims?
- What role with the grant play in the nonprofit’s project?
- Will the project be in a position to continue running even when the grant funding ceases?
- Does the nonprofit have the right staff to help implement the project for which the grant was applied?
- Has your nonprofit conducted such projects in the past, and how was the outcome?
Evaluating your nonprofit’s vision and mission is important before pursuing a grant. You are more likely to be successful when applying for a grant if it aligns with your nonprofit’s vision and mission.
Many grants also require you to adhere to various requirements as far as reports are concerned. While the idea of pursuing a grant sounds enticing, it should not be the only focus. A large proportion of the funds given to nonprofits still comes from individual donors.
Nevertheless, a grant may prove to be an important step in the right direction, especially if it is a sizable donation which means your organization will achieve more.
8 Tips On How To Secure Nonprofit Grants
- Stay aligned to your vision and mission
If you want to pursue a specific grant, make sure that your nonprofit only collaborates with organizations that have similar values to yours. Failure to consider this means your organization’s reputation will be at stake, and you might end up losing some donors.
This is why it is important to conduct due diligence on the organization that is offering the grant. You can do this by going to their website, checking out their blogs and socials, as well as their past work.
This will give you a rough idea of whether it is a good match with your nonprofit.
- Target smaller grants before going for the bigger plate
Large grants might sound enticing, but if your nonprofit is new to this type of funding, it might be a good idea to steer clear of those and instead target smaller local grants.
Large grants tend to be more strict and thorough when considering applications. They are more likely to fund nonprofits that already have a history of smaller grants and a record of delivering on their projects.
Starting with local grants will allow the nonprofit to develop a higher level of credibility and gain more writing expertise for the grant applications. Better grant writing skills make a huge difference in securing grants, especially the big ones.
- Have a robust budget
Have a clear understanding of the project that your nonprofit is working on so that you can determine the amount of money needed to fund it with a reasonable degree of accuracy.
For example, you need to indicate exactly how every dollar of the donated funds or grant will be used for that project’s purposes, thus a clear budget that will give you a good idea of how much money you need.
A good budget will also showcase your seriousness and commitment to the project.
- Conduct benchmarks with nonprofits similar to yours
Benchmarking is a great idea when pursuing a grant. It will allow you to see things from an angle that you may not have considered before. Always benchmark against a nonprofit similar to yours.
For example, if your nonprofit runs an animal shelter, consider whether there are similar animal shelters in your area and find out who funds them.
- Confirm the requirements
If your nonprofit is interested in a grant from a specific organization and is seriously planning to pursue it, consider conducting a careful review of the grant requirements.
A good understanding of those requirements will allow you to gauge whether the grant is a good fit for your nonprofit and whether it is in a position to meet those requirements.
Carefully going through the grant criteria even if your nonprofit previously secured a different grant. The conditions of one grant are usually different from that of another.
Many providers of nonprofit grants require your nonprofit to be a 501c3. If your nonprofit is not a 501c3 check out our detailed guide for creating a 501c4 nonprofit.
- Be ready to go through the process
The grant application process can be lengthy and tedious. Make sure you have all the right documents in place to avoid further potential delays.
Having the necessary paperwork and understanding the requirements will help you achieve a more efficient process, even if it might be lengthy.
- How will you measure the outcome?
Corporate and government organizations constantly pressure nonprofits to demonstrate the impact of their work.
Thus, your nonprofit should have a clear way of measuring its impact, which is particularly important when pursuing a grant. You have a higher probability of securing a grant if you can demonstrate your past projects’ positive impact.
If you want to measure the overall impact of your nonprofit, check out our guide to ‘How to maximize the impact of your nonprofit’.
- Develop strong relationships
Strong relationships are an important part of fundraising, and this also applies to grants. The foundation offering the funding will likely have a program officer to handle your application.
Consider engaging that program officer into a friendly conversation through which you can ask some important questions and build a good professional relationship with them. Also, consider adding the foundation to your email list.
Consider building a good rapport with other staff members from the foundation and also seem audiences with them during public events such as conferences. Engage with them on social media platforms if necessary.
If your grant application is rejected, contact the program officer or even the other staff members to inquire why. Feedback will allow you to understand what went wrong or what you would have done differently to secure the grant.
Such feedback might be vital for future references. Also, maintain a good professional relationship with the organization even if they did not give you the grant. It might pay off in the future in case they have another grant available.
Where To Find Nonprofit Grants
The nonprofit landscape has become increasingly challenging, particularly due to heavy competition, limited funds, lack of adequate staff, and limited time.
It also turns out that not many nonprofits know about grants despite the availability of grants worth billions.
The U.S Federal government alone has 26 agencies that offer grants from different departments, including treasury, labor, justice, energy, defense, commerce, education, agriculture, and urban development.
Nonprofits operating in any of the above areas should be on the lookout for available grants to apply for. Here are some avenues through which you can keep track of available grants:
- Foundation Center
It provides a robust directory of organizations that offer grants, and it also provides access to other free resources. This online platform lists grants offered by other nonprofits, corporates, and private foundations.
This is a database of government grants offered by the U.S government. The opportunities are listed in a section accessible by clicking the “Find Grant Opportunities” tab.
Once in this section, nonprofits can narrow down the search for suitable grants using keywords.
Consider subscribing to the Grants.gov mailing list so that you can receive notifications when new federal funding opportunities are available.
- Google Ad Grants
This program offers $10,000 through Google Ads every month.
This is a grant program operated by the advertising and internet giant Google to provide grants to nonprofit organizations. The program has a fund worth $1 billion, from which it will provide grants within the next five years.
- State Funding
Various departments from municipal or local governments in the U.S offer grants.
Some of the departments that provide grants include human services, family services, department of education, department of development, department of transportation, and jobs. Contact these departments to find if they have any grants available.
This website provides a search engine that you can use to look up grants provided by research institutions, religious organizations, community-based organizations, schools, government agencies, hospitals, and universities.
It also lists grants provided by individuals and businesses.
- Simple Web Search For Nonprofit Grants
Sometimes looking up grant opportunities can be done through search engines such as Google Search. Consider applying keywords to your search to make it more effective. Keywords may include locations or even aspects that match your nonprofit’s area of focus.
- Nonprofit Board Members
The board members of your nonprofit organization are an important resource as far as connections are concerned.
They can connect with grantmakers and members of other foundations, which means they can help secure important contacts that might clear a path for grants.
This is another website that offers information on various foundations and nonprofits. Registration is gree, and it has a search segment through which you can look up 990-PFs of foundations that offer grants.
- Dig Deeper Through Other Nonprofit Sources
Going the extra mile is just as important when looking for grants. Consider going through traditional sources of information such as newspapers and annual reports.
Also, study the grants landscape to see what kind of organizations are providing grants to nonprofits in the same segment as yours, then put them on your mail list and send them content about your nonprofit.
Joining a professional network such as the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) may also open up more funding opportunities. Such networks usually host events that provide networking opportunities.
The challenging nature of securing a grant should not discourage you from pursuing them. Consider learning as much as you can about them and especially about writing grant proposals.
The more time and research you commit, the higher the likelihood of securing favorable results. Winning one grant should not be the end of grant pursuits for your nonprofit.
You can secure grants multiple times, and there will be challenges along the way, but they should not discourage you.