Types of Grants for Nonprofits
Grants are highly sought after, and they’re not easy for nonprofits to get. The task of grant writing can be far easier when nonprofit boards have a clear vision about what they need grant funds for and which foundations, governments, or organizations offer grants for that purpose.
When making your grant request, be as detailed as possible regarding what you intend to use the funds for and how you intend to measure your results.
Where Can Nonprofits Look for Grant Opportunities?
When the topic of grants comes up, most people think about foundations. While foundations commonly offer nonprofit grants, there are several other places nonprofit boards can look for grants.
An excellent place to start is with the government. The federal government has a site called Grants.gov that allows you to search for federal grants. There is also a section where nonprofits can learn how to apply for federal grants.
Nonprofits may also be able to find grants from the state government. Depending on your local government’s health, you might also find a smaller grant at the local government level.
In addition to government grants, you can look for grants from the following types of grantors:
- Public foundations
- Private foundations
- Federated funds
- Corporate grants
While government grants are a good start, you might have better luck looking elsewhere for a grant.
10 Types of Nonprofit Grants
Here are 10 different types of grants your board can apply
- Start-up Grants or Seed Money Grants — Start-up grants are hard to come by, but they exist. Typically, grantmakers want assurance that a nonprofit is established and capable of raising some amount of funds on its own. Few grantmakers are interested in helping new nonprofits get off to a strong start. They often start with a large sum in the first year if you are fortunate enough to find one. For multi-year grants, the amounts typically lessen in subsequent years.
- Project Grants — It’s common for grantors to fund programs and projects for nonprofits. Much as it sounds, project grants support a set of activities connected to a specific program or project. Project grants must have specific objectives, and the proposals usually require nonprofits to outline the spending for grant funds if awarded. These types of grants are usually restrictive, meaning nonprofits may only use them for the intended purpose outlined in the proposal.
- Capacity Building Grants – A capacity-building grant might fit the bill if your nonprofit wants to do more in a particular area but lacks the funds. Capacity-building grants give you the revenue to do more with what you already have and the projects you have already started. Such grants cover the expenses for improving processes instead of funding one program or project.
- Operating Fund Grants — Grantors are most interested in funding established and sustainable nonprofits. They generally expect you to handle your monthly expenses without outside financial support. This is why operating fund grants are harder to come by than other types of nonprofit grants. Another approach is to request a grant for another purpose and reallocate funds from that project to the operating expenses.
- Research Grants — Research grants work differently than most other grants. These grants cover expenses connected with conducting research and are awarded to academia or nonprofit organizations that engage in research. Research grants are usually attached to a particular faculty member for colleges and universities. If the faculty member leaves the school, the grant follows them.
- Endowment Grants — Some foundations manage endowments for nonprofits that earn interest. It’s typical for such grantors also to help nonprofits improve their governance standards and practices. Grantors may contribute funds to the nonprofit’s endowment fund if the nonprofit reaches certain goals or milestones.
- Facilities and Equipment Grants — These grants are also known as capital grants. They cover all or part of the costs of a nonprofit’s facilities. Governments at various levels commonly offer facilities and equipment grants for programs to improve highways, provide housing, and other similar projects. These grants may also be used to purchase equipment or electronics.
- Technical Assistance Grants — While nonprofit boards should have various types of expertise on their boards, they rarely have experts in every area they need. Technical assistance grants can pay for experts or consultants in a particular field such as accounting, financial management, legal, fundraising, technology, marketing, or some other aspect of managing the nonprofit.
- Conditional Grants — Unlike other grants where a nonprofit gets awarded a grant upfront, for conditional grants, nonprofits do not receive the funds until they meet the conditions outlined in the approval letter. An example of a conditional grant is a matching grant where a grantor matches a certain amount of money that a nonprofit fundraises. With an unconditional grant, nonprofits receive the funds unconditionally and have no restrictions on how they can use the funds.
- In-Kind Grants — Unlike all other types of grants, in-kind grants do not involve money at all. Instead, they relate to a non-monetary gift such as a vehicle, tractor, computer equipment, or other material objects. It’s common for corporations to grant items to nonprofits as an in-kind gift.
A nonprofit will rarely receive a grant for every grant application they submit. For that reason, nonprofits commonly apply for multiple grants every year.
Professional grant writers make the task of applying for grants easier, and it’s less frustrating for boards. Grant writers help with research, and they ensure the final proposal is accurate, complete, and legible. They will cover all the essential sections of the grant application carefully to ensure nothing gets missed; incomplete grant applications could be sent back.
Finally, it’s common for grant proposals to be denied, so don’t give up if you don’t receive an award immediately. It may take submitting many grant applications to get a win.