As a nonprofit organization, it’s difficult to receive first time grant funding for your venture. This should not dissuade you from seeking grant funding because there are thousands of foundations and funds available if you know where to look.
The most important tip is this: don’t be afraid of rejection. Often, organizations will submit one or two proposals only to never try again. By mastering the grant proposal application and finding the right donors, your nonprofit organization could significantly expand the scale of its operations.
Know What to Look For
Ultimately, you’ll need to find a grantor that funds areas of research and operations related to your mission statement. For example, if you’re applying for a research or academic grant than the National Science Foundation would be the ideal place to start.
Every foundation and agency has different guidelines, so it’s important to keep these factors in mind before you submit an application:
- Maximum fund limit
- Reporting requirements
- Budgetary stipulations
- Application due date
- Previous funds awarded
- Length of the review process
- History of the grantor
- Geographical area
These are important considerations to keep in mind when searching for a grantor. Grant writing can be an exhausting and labor intensive process so, while we recommend submitting to multiple grantors, we recommend you narrow your search to the most likely to award you funds.
Grant proposals are incredibly competitive, which often leads many organizations to lead to other revenue sources, such as crowdfunding and donations. According to the National Institutes of Health, out of the 51,073 applications they received in 2014, only 18.1 were successful. Of course, national foundations are more competitive than local or regional foundations.
Consider asking members of your board for any connections they have with a grantor. Once you have received an award from a grantor before, you’re more likely to receive funding again on the next application cycle. Grantors are not likely to fund new organizations they’re unfamiliar with. Grantors seek to build trust with the organizations they do fund and have enjoyed success with.
Online Grant Searches
If you have no connections to leverage then it’s time to start searching over the internet. It’s key to pin down your search criteria, including relevant keywords and location. You can even conduct competitor research to find awardees similar to your organization and what grantors have awarded them in the past.
Once you begin identifying potential grantors mark them down in a sheet to determine which best align with the goals of your organization. Include all pertinent data mentioned in the ‘What to look For’ section. This will help you find foundations on local, regional, and national levels.
Local Grant Foundations
Most local grant organizations don’t have narrow stipulations for awards. They will actually be very happy to spur some investment into their local economy using your organization. This is a good place to start looking as these organizations will be more familiar with your organization. Of course, you probably won’t receive as much money from a local foundation as a nationally recognized foundation. Ask around or simply do a geographical search using your location and your target keywords.
This website represents the ultimate database for all federal grants in the United States. With prudent announcements, easy search criteria, and thousands of registers, grants.gov is the one-stop shop for grant seekers. They also provide very helpful information that everyone should read before applying for a grant, such as how to write a proposal and what guidelines most agencies are seeking.
For national foundations, you can check out The Foundation Center, which is the ultimate resource for national and regional grantor organizations across the globe.
Writing the grant proposal should be the stressful part, not searching for the right grantor. By applying this search criteria and knowing where to look you can increase your chances of receiving grant funds to help establish your nonprofit and finally complete community work. Once you have received your funds, the fun process of grant management begins.