Does your nonprofit organization have an amazing project but need funding to get started? Despite your noble intentions and philanthropic efforts, you still need capital to launch programs that benefit individuals, communities, and even our planet.
Fortunately, there’s another way to raise money without taking out traditional business loans: nonprofit grants. These forms of financing can be especially beneficial since nonprofit business loans are typically hard to come by. In this article, we’ll run through how to find the best grants for nonprofits, as well as nine top options.
What Are Grants for Nonprofits?
A nonprofit grant is a sum of money awarded to a nonprofit organization that doesn’t need to be repaid.
Nonprofit organizations typically form to address a specific cause (e.g., climate change or unemployment) or assist a specific group of individuals (e.g., college students or women business owners of color).
There are several sources of grant funding you can explore, which typically fall under these categories:
- Government Grants: Grants funded by the government or taxpayer money. You can also seek government grants on the federal level, state level (e.g., The California Wellness Foundation), and local level (such as a specific district)
- Foundation Grants: Organizations formed to donate money to the nonprofit sector—often established by private individuals, such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,
- Corporate Grants: Grants given by corporate companies to advance philanthropic causes. Companies like Google and Walmart are known to contribute to various nonprofit organizations.
Top Grants for Nonprofits in 2020
1. 3M Foundation
- What it is: Grants for nonprofits that help underrepresented individuals advance in STEM fields, climate change, and various global humanitarian relief efforts.
- How to apply: Visit their grant guidelines to determine your eligibility before applying.
- Potential benefits: Gain financing to fund various events, volunteer programs, and receive donated funds and products.
2. The Carnegie Foundation
- What it is: Grants for nonprofits that specialize in state-based work, as well as those bringing higher education and resources to African scholars.
- How to apply: Before you can use their cloud-based grants management system, you must first submit a letter of inquiry to start the application process.
- Potential benefits: The Carnegie Foundation has donated $45,000 to $500,000+ to past grantees.
3. The Coca-Cola Foundation
- What it is: Corporate foundation dedicated to giving back 1% of its prior year’s operating income to nonprofit organizations that empower women, enhance communities, protect the environment, and advance education.
- How to apply: You must register on their website and pass the eligibility quiz.
- Potential benefits: The Coca-Cola Foundation has made generous donations ranging from $45,000 to $500,000+ to past grantees.
4. Walmart Foundation
- What it is: Local community grant opportunities for nonprofits involved in promoting diversity, advancing sustainability, improving nutrition, and disaster relief and preparedness.
- How to apply: Visit their website to learn more about eligibility and applying online.
- Potential benefits: The Walmart Foundation’s local grants can range from $250 to $5,000.
5. Ford Foundation
- What it is: Grants for nonprofits that specialize in civic engagement, fighting inequality, and promoting environmental sustainability.
- How to apply: Submit your application using their online form.
- Potential benefits: $20,000 to $300,000+ donated to past grantees.
6. Amazon Web Services Imagine Grant
- What it is: Empowering nonprofit organizations that leverage technology to advance their projects and goals.
- How to apply: Visit their website to download their guidelines and learn more about applying.
- Potential benefits: Up to $100,000 in financial support and AWS promotional credit
7. Bank of America
- What it is: Grants for nonprofits that seek to promote hunger relief, homelessness relief, stable housing, environmental sustainability, and building vibrant communities rich in art and culture.
- How to apply: Visit their website to submit an online application.
- Potential benefits: Larger markets benefit from grant amounts of $5,000 to $50,000 or $2,500 to $25,000, according to their Grant FAQs.
8. Google Ad Grants
- What it is: Google ad credit to help boost your nonprofit organization’s marketing efforts.
- How to apply: Visit their website to sign up online.
- Potential benefits: Up to $10,000 of in-kind advertising every month, which can be used to recruit volunteers and increase donations.
9. Google for Nonprofits
- What it is: Instead of a traditional grant, Google for Nonprofits offers their products and tools to help nonprofit organizations run their operations.
- How to apply: Apply online for a Google for Nonprofits account.
- Potential benefits: Access G Suite for Nonprofits, Google Ad Grants, YouTube Nonprofit Program, and Google Maps Platform for free. Also, receive significant discounts for their G Suite Business and Enterprise software.
How to Find Grants for Nonprofits
While the above list is a great place to start to obtain a grant for your nonprofit, there are various other options out there—it’s just a matter of finding them. Keep in mind what makes your nonprofit unique, as well as your specific location, then follow these steps to find grants for nonprofits.
1. Know Your Mission
Before you begin applying for or even researching grants for nonprofits, start with understanding your mission and what you hope to achieve.
Because you will need to know your cause inside and out if you hope a grantmaker will resonate with your proposal. When writing your grant proposal, you should:
- Have a clear and relevant mission
- Ensure that your goals are specific, measurable, and achievable (check out our guide on how to create SMART goals)
- Create a detailed budget
- Possess a history of helping those within your target community
All of these factors will explain why your cause should matter to whichever grant-making agency you solicit. By defining the positive impact that your program will have, you will have a better chance of engaging your reader—thus, securing the exact amount of funding you’re requesting.
2. Do Your Research
Each type of nonprofit grantmaking agency will have specific guidelines you must adhere to. Make sure that you do your research before applying.
- Check your eligibility: Some agencies require that you have been in operation for a specific time frame, will request previous annual reports, and may need a detailed budget and balance sheet with your grant proposal.
- Fit the target applicant profile: One foundation might specialize only in combating climate change, while another supports nonprofits that advance education for people of color. Be sure that you meet the target applicant profile.
- Application period: Many foundations will have an application deadline. Be sure to submit your grant proposal within this period to ensure your grant proposal receives a chance for review.
- Specific point of contact: Is there an individual who handles the grant proposal process? If so, note their name. Personalizing your cover letter by addressing that individual shows that you’ve done your research.
3. Use Grant Databases
There are hundreds—even thousands— of nonprofit grant opportunities if you look long enough. But this can be incredibly time-consuming and overwhelming. Instead of searching for grants for nonprofits one-by-one, you can take advantage of various databases that connect grantees with grantmaking agencies. By applying certain filters, such as industry, or using keywords, you can determine which grants you are eligible for.
In addition to researching the grants for nonprofits listed earlier, you can use the following grant databases to help you learn how to find grants for nonprofits. Some options include:
- What it is: A one-stop database to search, review, and apply for nonprofit grants.
- How to apply: You can search their online database to find specific grant application details. They also offer a paid membership that includes perks, like seeing more information on current grants and awards.
- Potential benefits: Gain access to a database that regularly updates with the latest grants, making it easy to find new funding opportunities while applying on time.
- What it is: A one-stop database to search, review, and apply for nonprofit grants.
- How to apply: You can search their online database to find specific grant application details. They also offer a paid membership that includes perks, like additional details about current grants and awards.
- Potential benefits: Gain access to a database that regularly updates with the latest grants, making it easy to find new funding opportunities and meet deadlines.
- What it is: An e-government operating under the Office of Management and Budget that helps grant applicants find federal grant-making agencies.
- How to apply: Learn about their five-step registration process by visiting their website.
- Potential benefits: Making finding and applying for federal grants online a secure and straightforward process. You can also enable notifications when federal agencies post new grant opportunities.
- What it is: An online database that connects nonprofit organizations with grant-giving entities.
- How to apply: You can create your nonprofit profile on their website to start applying for grants, while helping grant-makers discover your cause.
- Potential benefits: Eliminates the need for nonprofits to reenter repetitive information. Allows nonprofits to populate grant applications automatically, saving you valuable time.
4. Narrow Your Search With Keywords
With countless nonprofit grants out there, not all of them will apply to your organization. Searching with the right keywords will save you valuable time spent researching grants irrelevant to your mission.
When searching the various databases mentioned above, you’ll find multiple fields that can filter which grants appear in your search results.
For example, let’s say you run a nonprofit organization that focuses on nature conservancy. If you search with keywords like “climate change,” “environment,” or “sustainability,” you are more likely to find grant opportunities that align with your mission.
Or if your nonprofit organization helps underserved communities find affordable housing and employment opportunities, you can use keywords like “poverty,” “homelessness,” and “unemployment.”
Knowing your target keywords can save you tons of time during the process—time you could spend perfecting your grant proposal!
5. Track Your Applications
We recommend that you create a calendar or spreadsheet dedicated to your grant applications. You can set reminders of deadlines to ensure you are submitting your grant proposals in a timely fashion. You can also set reminders to check the status of grants for nonprofits you applied to in the past. Staying detail-oriented and organized is key to applying to new grants and keeping tabs on submitted applications.
Hopefully, this guide on how to find grants for nonprofits has inspired you to continue your search for funding. Yet, don’t let this list restrict further research. Be sure to use grant databases to find additional funding from government agencies, foundations, and private corporations. Consider these additional grant resources as well: