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Any grant can be a major boost for your nonprofit, but operating grants may be the best of all. Learn about the differences between operating and restricted grants, and find out how to get more for your organization.

Operating versus Restricted Grants

You can probably guess the difference based on just the wording. Restricted or project grants are awarded for specific purposes. Operating grants give you more flexibility with how you can use the funds. In practice, that often means you can use the grant to fund the work your organization is already doing instead of limiting the funds to a particular project.

Benefits of Operating Grants

While project grants can be very valuable, many nonprofits prefer operating funds because they allow you to use your expertise to decide what’s the best way to allocate your resources to serve your clients and advance your mission. You may also find it easier to build long term relationships because you’re likely to be working with a funder whose mission overlaps more with your own. It’s like the difference between a close friend with whom you have a lot in common compared to a coworker you may not see again once you change jobs.

How to Receive More Grants

To receive more grants, you can start by doing research on what kinds of grants a particular funder makes. Some award operating or project grants only or a combination of both. Whatever their policies state, it’s also important to check how many grants they’ve actually made in recent years.


Another thing you can do is to build your capacity. Training your staff, building a strong infrastructure, and working with qualified consultants are all good ways to demonstrate that you will be able to use funds in a way that helps you and your funders to fulfill your shared goals.

Mainstream Nonprofit Solutions provides efficient, effective administrative services that enable your nonprofit to maximize your mission. Contact us to find out more about our grant writing and other services.