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What You Need to Know About Nonprofit Grants

Are you looking to increase grant funding for your organization? Nonprofit grants are a complex topic, and there are a lot of options ahead. Here are a few things that you should know.

where to start fundraising with nonprofit grants

What Are the Basic Types of Nonprofit Grants?

There are a few specific types of grant that you might be looking for:

  • Research grants. These grants are for companies that are performing specific types of research. Research grants usually won’t provide the bulk of a nonprofit organization’s funding, but can still help fund the organization’s initiatives.
  • Operating grants. These grants are for operating funds for the nonprofit organization. Most nonprofit organizations need cash infusions regularly to continue operating.
  • Building grants. These grants are for the building and expansion of specific areas of the nonprofit. These nonprofit grants will need a proposal regarding the expansion and why it’s worthwhile.
  • Project grants. These grants are for specific projects that need to be completed. These grants will need proposals associated with the project, including how much the project is likely to cost in total.

Determining the right type of grant is the first step towards finding one. It depends on how you plan to use the funds.

How Do You Apply for a Grant?

The process of applying for a nonprofit grant is fairly straightforward, it just requires a lot of research. There are many grants available and most of them are highly specific.

  1. Find grants that fit you.  Search for grants that apply for the type of nonprofit organization that you are. Often, these are split geographically, or based on the type of charity the nonprofit is. This can be a complicated process: there are many directories of grants, and many grants available to comb through.
  2. Review their requirements. Even if the grant itself seems to be relevant, they can also have very specific requirements. A grant may be for small nonprofit organizations in your area, but might specify that the funding is for specific types of initiatives in their directions. Review requirements carefully to avoid wasting time.
  3. Send in an application for the grant. Applications take a long time. It’s more than just filling out a form. A grant writer will need to go through and write proposals for the grant, explaining what the grant is going to be used for and why the nonprofit is a suitable candidate for the grant.
  4. Wait to hear back from the grant. Waiting times can vary tremendously. Some grants may respond very quickly while others may have lengthy waiting periods. Grants generally aren’t used for funds that need to be acquired immediately.

While this may seem simple, it can be a full-time job for someone in a nonprofit. Researching and applying for nonprofit grants is an involved process, and often requires the help of a professional grant writer.

Should You Hire a Grant Writer?

A nonprofit grant writer is a professional who is skilled in the process of applying for grants. You don’t need a grant writer to apply for a grant, but it’s generally advised. Grant writers know the ins-and-outs of the grant process, and are consequently able to yield better results. Applying for a grant can be very time-consuming, and most nonprofit board members, staff members, and volunteers aren’t going to have the time. With grant funding being high stakes, it’s better to place it in the hands of a professional.

Many believe that grants make up the bulk of a nonprofit organization’s capital. In fact, private donations are more significant. Grants usually don’t cover a substantial amount for a nonprofit organization, but when used properly they can help an organization maintain critical projects and services.


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