Most grants come from three places: U.S. Federal Government, State Governments, and Foundations. Everything else could be called donations.
I recommend that nonprofits stay away from Federal grants. Many times, the reporting and management exceeds the nonprofit’s resources. More importantly, Federal grants can mandate requirements on how the nonprofit should operate.
State grants are usually funded by Federal money. However, the State may not have the same reporting requirements as Federal, making them a good source.
The best way to find State grants is to talk with an elected official where the nonprofit is located. They usually know or have access to State grants. The State’s website may have information on grants, but it is usually easier to find the department that may have grants and call the contact.
Most nonprofits apply to foundations for grants. There are three types of foundations.
- Corporate which is funded by a large company.
- Public (or public charity) who receive money from different sources.
- Private foundations which are generally funded and run by a few individuals or a family.
One of the best ways to find a corporate foundation is driving around the area. Pick a large company and do an internet search by typing in their name followed by “foundation.” Corporations are likely to fund a grant if they have a significant presence in the community. Talking to the manager of the store or business is a must.
Private foundations are difficult to find because they rarely have websites. The best way to find a private foundation is word-of-mouth or through newsletters of other organizations. Once I find a private foundation, I call them. They may tell me how to apply.
There are databases that list grants. Some are free, but most cost from $100 to $1,500 per year. Some libraries have accounts to these databases that a member can use. I used some of the lower cost databases and found more grant opportunities doing my own internet search.