Nonprofit grants, also referred to as fundraising grants, are a financial sum given to a nonprofit organization in the form of a donation. These grants are typically donated by foundations, corporations, or government agencies, but can also be donated by individuals or families. Realistically, many nonprofits are funded by grants they receive throughout the year.
Grant organizations, also known as grantmakers, provide funding for grants and often have specifics on how they want their donations distributed. Instead of giving a lump sum to the organization to do with as they please, grant programs often have stipulations in what they want their funds to support, for example, a program or initiative they feel strongly about — they may also have extensive grants applications processes. In some funding opportunities , however, grantmakers will donate funds without this stipulation, allowing the nonprofit to fund the organization as required.
How do nonprofits benefit from grants?
Nonprofits benefit from grant funding in multiple ways, but the main advantage is the ability to use the funds to run the organization. What’s more, unlike loans, you do not need to pay a grant back. Because grants are usually gifted to nonprofits from large companies, they are generally larger than those from individual donors. Large grants for nonprofits can give a much-needed cash injection to help fund a project, market the organization, purchase supplies, or get an initiative like disaster relief off the ground. This can help the organization enter a new phase of growth, and attract new donors.
Grants also improve visibility and credibility for an organization, whether it’s related to higher education or women’s workplace conditions. In most cases, a nonprofit receiving grants from established businesses will enjoy greater credibility. This could spur other organizations to provide grants to the nonprofit as well. This means that once grantmakers see that other organizations are funding your nonprofit, they are more likely to donate funds themselves.
How to get grants for nonprofit organizations
There are several ways nonprofits can approach finding grants. This can be done by:
- Searching for grant opportunies online
- Reaching out to the relevant organizations that align with your mission and plans
- Being contacted by sponsors that have been following and supporting your cause.
In most cases, however, nonprofits need to approach potential donors for grants. When reaching out to potential grantmakers and putting together a proposal, you should consider factors like location, grant type, your cause, type of service, and target audience.
This proposal needs to be submitted on behalf of your organization, either by a staff member or an associated supporter. The grantmaker usually has a list of requirements or documents, as well as an application form that needs to be submitted along with the proposal. The proposal should highlight why you need the support of the business and what you would use the funds for if your grant is approved.
You can hire a professional grant writer to put together your proposal for you, which will then be submitted to the grantmaker. The recipient will review it and either approve or deny your grant application. If accepted, the funds will be delivered to the nonprofit in a time period stipulated by the grantmaker.
Is your nonprofit eligible for a discount?
Is it important to hire a grant writer?
A grant writer is a person responsible for writing the grant proposal who typically has a background in education, English, writing, or communications. That said, anyone with professional writing competencies can write a grant proposal. Some nonprofits have employees skilled at crafting grant proposals while others choose to outsource their writers to ensure all necessary requirements are met.
Grant writers’ main value lies in their ability to create compelling proposals that reflect the needs and values of your organization. They do this by also conducting research about the organization from which you are requesting funds so they can more effectively connect the proposal with their interests and values.
If you’re considering hiring a writer, make sure it’s financially viable to do so. If you opt-out of hiring a professional, ensure that your team has the capacity to focus on crafting the proposal, which will include extensive research, creative thinking, and expert writing skills. Regardless of your choice, you will need to consider your budget and available resources before proceeding with grant writing. Hiring a professional writer on a contract basis may be the most effective and affordable option, but do some research before making a choice.
Choosing the right funding source for your nonprofit
While most nonprofits seek funding from multiple sources, a large number of organizations depend on a single dominant source of funding. That said, choosing a funding source can be a hard decision to make, but there are steps you can take to make the process easier.
Step 1: Plan ahead
Many nonprofits only consider fundraising methods when it’s needed. This type of reactive fundraising can be stressful due to time constraints. However, taking a more proactive approach and budgetting time to think about what funding model will work best for the needs of your organization can save your teams a lot of stress and scrambling. If you’re already in the process of raising funds, it’s a best practice to routinely reevaluate your needs and funding model.
Step 2: Evaluate your organization
Assess your funding requirements and what sources are available. Take a close look at what you’re already doing and what you need to do and ask questions like:
- How much funding do you need?
- Do the funding sources align with your mission and values?
- Are your current efforts successful?
- Do you have time and resources to source new revenue streams?
- Do you want one main funding source or multiple sources to tap into?
Step 3: Explore your options
Set up a brainstorming session with your team for some creative input. This is the time to start thinking outside the box. Check out what other organizations are doing and decide when the same approach would benefit your nonprofit.
Step 4: Analyze your expenses
Consider how much funds you need to raise from each funding source. Make a realistic goal for each funding source and put funding models in place that is sustainable and feasible for your organization.
Step 5: Choose your funding source
Once you have decided on a funding source or multiple funding sources, commit to one of two models and start implementing a plan of execution. Make sure that your plan is actionable so you can start the process and raise funds as soon as possible.
A well thought-out plan and strategy will help your organization find the right source of funding and position itself as a nonprofit worth investing in. You will attract more donors, ensure long-term sustainability and make a lasting impact. .
Types of funding sources
- Individual donations: More than half of all donations to nonprofits come from individuals. As such, it is important to focus on individual donors and make them a key focus of your fundraising model. Individual donors can either make once-off or ongoing donations, whether online or offline, through events, gifts, auctions and more. Since individual donations can be one of the most effective funding sources, it’s important to find ways to reach out through marketing efforts.
- Grants: Nonprofits can apply for grants through the local government, as well as public and private foundations. Organizations are typically not required to pay back any money obtained from a grant, although the process for getting grant approval can be more tricky and time-consuming. The good news is that almost every country in the world has some kind of government grant process that organizations can benefit from. Because grants are only applicable for certain sectors and locations, it is important for your organizations to find suitable grants. Some of the main types of grants are from organizations like governments, public charities, family and community foundations and private foundations. All grant-giving organizations must also meet certain requirements, which will depend on the country you are based in.
- Corporate sponsorships: Corporate sponsorships can be an excellent source of funding as big companies are usually interested in supporting worthy causes and improving their social responsibility. Corporate social responsibility is important for companies as consumers will more likely respond to socially responsible businesses. Depending on the corporation’s values, mission and goals, their giving strategy may align with your organization, leading to a mutually beneficial relationship. That said, corporations are very specific about the kind of organizations they want to align with, so finding the right-fit partner is key.
- Membership fees: This funding source is not ideal for every organization, but can certainly help some nonprofits raise money. It can even be a sustainable revenue stream. This type of funding source is particularly useful if your nonprofit offers exclusive benefits and programs to its members. The pros would be having a constant source of revenue, that it’s unrestricted and immediate, and creates an ongoing, intimate relationship between members and your organization. On the downside, creating a membership program takes time and effort, while benefits could end up being more expensive than it’s worth.
- Selling goods and services: This is another funding source to consider, although they would be subject to certain regulations depending on where you are based. This option is more suited to larger organizations that have the resources to sell goods and services. Smaller charities do not typically consider this a viable option, although there are exceptions. For example, smaller charities could benefit from selling goods like mugs, cookies, t-shirts and various other small items to earn revenue.
- In-kind donations: While in-kind donations will not be beneficial to every nonprofit, they can be valuable for organizations like animal shelters, safe houses and homeless shelters. In-kind donations are typically goods donated to an organization to help the cause, including items like food, clothing, toys, medicine and blankets. These in-kind donations are particularly essential during times of crisis or disaster, for example, donating food and clothing to victims of natural disasters.
Using grant management software
Grant management software can be incredibly beneficial to nonprofit organizations to manage and process grant applications. With the help of grant management software, you can streamline workflow by setting up task reminders and assigning tasks to various users. Other features could include contact information storage, including organizations you’re interested in approaching for future grant requests. Grant management software is highly recommended to help nonprofits keep ahead of their schedules and activities related to grants.
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