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Finding funding for your nonprofit organization can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. There are countless foundations and corporations waiting to give out grant awards, but not all of them are a perfect fit. If a nonprofit on a shoestring budget doesn’t have a targeted plan, they can spend hours searching the internet for opportunities and come up short. How do you prevent this from happening?

signing a contract after grant writing

The Basics

Before embarking on your funding adventure, it is important for you to keep the following information in mind:

Your Agency’s Mission and Vision

What is your agency’s mission and vision? This is one of the first things a funder will ask on their application and is used to determine whether you are a good fit for their grant award. You should also keep your mission and vision in mind as you search for grants. If your agency helps underprivileged youth attend college, and a funder’s grant application is for organizations helping rural youth access preventative health services, the grant won’t be a fit.

Your Agency’s Demographics

Who does your agency serve? A funder may prefer applicants whose clients reside in a particular county or represent an underserved population. In addition, you should be prepared to describe how your agency delivers culturally competent services: those that are mindful of the experiences and needs of people of color; people with Limited English Proficiency; people of a different gender or sexual identities; or people of different nationalities.

Your Project

Think about the project for which you are seeking funding. Is the project part of an existing program or brand new? Who will it serve? What do you want the project’s outcomes to be? Where will it be held? These basic questions should be answered prior to seeking the perfect grant funding, and will help in determining what grants you apply to.

Now that you know what to think about, let’s look at a few places where you can find funding.

Community Foundations

Community foundations are one of the first places you should investigate when searching for grant funding. These organizations collect donations for specific funds, which are used to support the communities where their founders live and work.

Specific strengths for applying to a community foundation grant include:

  • A smaller pool of applicants: Most community foundation grants are only open to applicants who are located in, or primarily serve clients from, a specific town or towns.
  • The opportunity for site visits: A site visit is when representatives from a community foundation visit your agency to get a better understanding of your services. This is where your agency can shine!

Drawbacks include:

  • Limited funding: The average community foundation grant award is between $500 – $1,000. It is prudent to consider whether your project needs short-term or long-term funding in order to succeed.
  • Town preferences: Because there are a limited number of awards to hand out, a community foundation is more likely to award grant funding to an agency who is located in and serves residents from a specific town or towns. Be sure to consider the demographic makeup of your agency when researching this type of funding.

Financial Institutions

Companies such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo have philanthropic giving programs that are perfect for larger projects or major events.

Specific strengths for applying to a financial institution include:

  • Flexibility: You can determine whether your application will be for a program or for sponsorship for a major fundraiser. Any way to defray costs is worth your time!
  • Variety: Larger companies tend to have a range of grant opportunities to apply to. As a result, you can pick and choose which ones will fit your agency the best!

Drawbacks include:

  • Competition: The amount of applicants for a particular grant will depend on the area or areas a particular financial institution serves. Multi-stateinstitutions will, therefore, have a larger pool of applicants.
  • Funding preferences: The type of project or event a financial institution will fund is dependent upon their corporate responsibility initiatives. Be sure to investigate who the institution has funded in the past prior to developing an application.

Your State

State contracts are a way to secure funding for an existing service or expand to provide a new one!

Specific strengths for applying to a state contract include:

  • Larger Awards: State contracts can result in an award amount in the hundreds of thousands of dollars! This means funding for staff, program materials, and other much-needed resources for your programming.
  • Continued Funding: While foundation grants are often one-time awards, a state contract can range from three to five years.

Drawbacks include:

  • Tight Requirements: A state contract can have stringent requirements regarding staffing, program curricula, or program location. Not meeting these expectations puts your funding in jeopardy.
  • Budgetary Concerns: Funding for state contracts is directly related to the state budget. If you are awarded a contract, your funding may be reduced or eliminated in subsequent years.

Learn More About Finding the Perfect Grant for Your Nonprofit

After reading this article, finding the perfect grant for your agency should be a snap!  If you need further assistance, contact us today!