Did you know that according to the Internal Revenue Service, in 2016, there were 1.5 million nonprofit organizations registered in the U.S.? These nonprofits do critical work to meet community needs across the nation. To fulfill their missions, though, they need funding.
If you’re a nonprofit leader, you need to know what resources are available to help ensure your organization has the funds to keep operations and services running. We’ll delve into donor recruitment strategies in a later blog post, but now we want to focus on one of the most fundamental pillars of nonprofit fundraising: grants.
Grants are a major way for an organization to attain funding to support their ideas and their projects to provide public services to communities in need. Depending on the grantor, the funds can help finance initiatives critical to community programs, research, services, or operational support. Some grant programs offer yearly renewal, and others are one-time awards. Potential grantors include federal and state as well as private foundations.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many funders have reconsidered their previous grant process and have shifted to an “invitation-only” application system. In these cases, we highly encourage writing a strong letter of intent, or an LOI, that will get your nonprofit noticed. Should your mission align with the funding priorities of the foundation or grant program, they will contact you directly to submit a formal funding application. Here are some tips on how to write a strong LOI. Since applying for grants is an essential part of the nonprofit world, having an excellent grant writer will help make the process easier and help you stay organized. However, we know that not every nonprofit has access to a grant writer or staff member who can dedicate most of their time to researching and writing. So here are a few tips on finding the best grant resources and where to access them.
1. FOR FEDERAL FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES: GRANTS.GOV
Each year when Congress passes the federal budget, they appropriate a certain amount for federal agencies to allocate funds to grants and federal funding opportunities. Grants.gov is the hub for all of these federal funding opportunities. You can access a comprehensive list through their search tool, which has a filter to help search for grants based on specific projects, initiatives, services, and regions. This site has a vast list of resources, including free webinars, YouTube videos, and a Grants Learning Center. We encourage you to take some time to review the site and utilize its resources.
2. FOR STATE FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES: THE CALIFORNIA GRANTS PORTAL
When the federal government allocates money to the states, they also set aside funds for state-specific grant programs. In 2018, the Grant Information Act required the State Library to support a website for grants. As of July 2020, this site has managed to provide updated funding opportunities throughout the state of California. The California Grants Portal is the state website to search for grants. Similar to grants.gov, the page leads you directly to the search feature to filter your search option and better find a funding opportunity that is right for you. We hope you can take some time to visit the site and find some grants that are the right fit for you and your California nonprofit.
3. FOR FOUNDATION OPPORTUNITIES: NATIONAL COUNCIL OF NONPROFITS
Now, foundation grants are a bit more tedious to find and may take more time to complete. If you already have pre-established relationships with foundations, it may be less challenging to know when their grants cycle is opening. If not, you may need to do a little more research through the National Council of Nonprofits, whose site offers grant resources and a helpful research tool.
Researching grants may seem overwhelming, but these three resources can definitely help you find the right opportunities for your organization and the community you serve.