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Business grants are a great way to finance the growth of your nonprofit organization. Unlike small-business loans, these grants provide free access to capital that doesn’t need to be repaid.
However, finding and qualifying for a nonprofit grant can be difficult. You’ll likely face strong competition from other organizations and have to complete time-consuming applications. Plus, nonprofits are often excluded from well-known business grant programs, such as the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest.
Nevertheless, the time and effort may be worth it if you can secure free funding for your nonprofit. Start your search with these options from federal and state governments, charitable foundations and private companies.
How Much Do You Need?
What are grants for nonprofits?
A nonprofit grant is a sum of money awarded to a nonprofit organization that doesn’t need to be repaid. Grants for nonprofits are typically distributed by government agencies, corporations or foundations.
Unlike standard small-business grants, nonprofit grants are often restricted. With a restricted grant, the awarding organization defines how it wants the money to be used, such as to fund research or support a particular project.
Some organizations may also require that your nonprofit meet certain conditions (e.g., following
specific reporting procedures) before you can gain access to your funds.
Unrestricted nonprofit grants, on the other hand, allow you to use your grant money as you see fit. These grants offer ideal flexibility, but they can be more difficult to find.
Government grants for nonprofits
Nonprofits can receive grants from the government at the federal, state and local level. Here are some options to consider.
Grants.gov is a database of federally sponsored grants operated and maintained by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. You can use this database to browse grants issued by over 25 government agencies — and you can even filter specifically for nonprofit funding opportunities.
To get one of these nonprofit grants, you must create an account with Grants.gov, and complete and submit an application. These federal grants tend to have unique qualification requirements, so you’ll want to read through all of the information and confirm you’re eligible before applying.
2. National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is an independent federal agency that offers arts grants for nonprofits. The organization funds nonprofit arts organizations across the country, providing approximately 2,300 grants annually.
There are a variety of NEA grant options, designed for both small and larger organizations. The Challenge America grant, for example, supports small nonprofits in their efforts to bring arts programs to underserved communities. Grants are set at $10,000 and require a match of cash or contributions.
You can review details about these arts grants on the NEA website and apply on Grants.gov.
3. Economic Development Administration
The Economic Development Administration provides grant resources and houses the Economic Development Directory to help you search for funding opportunities in your state or city.
In New York, for example, you can browse available nonprofit and small-business grants through the Economic Development District website that services your location (e.g., central New York, Hudson Valley, Capital District).
4. Grant databases
You can also use grant databases, like GrantWatch and GrantFinder, to identify federal, state and local opportunities for your nonprofit organization. These types of databases allow you to search and apply for grants all in one place. However, some options require a paid subscription to access everything its platform has to offer.
Foundation grants for nonprofits
Foundations are nonprofit organizations that provide funding to other nonprofits. These organizations can be established by corporations, individuals or families, like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
5. Carnegie Corporation
The Carnegie Corporation offers nonprofit grants in four program areas: education; democracy; international peace and security; and higher education and research in Africa. The corporation does not typically provide general support or unrestricted nonprofit grants.
You must meet the eligibility criteria based on one of the four programs and use the money to fund a qualifying project.
To apply for one of these nonprofit grants, you’ll submit a letter of inquiry using the organization’s online portal. If your letter of inquiry is approved, you’ll be invited to submit a full proposal. The process usually takes four to six weeks.
6. Ford Foundation
The Ford Foundation issues grants to nonprofit organizations that are focused on addressing issues of inequality. These offerings are based on nine program areas, including creativity and free expression; national resources and climate change; and gender, racial and ethnic justice.
You can find current projects that are accepting applications on the foundation’s website and apply based on the instructions for that specific grant.
7. Coca‑Cola Foundation
The Coca-Cola Foundation offers community grants for nonprofits to support initiatives like clean water, economic empowerment, climate resilience and disaster preparedness.
To access one of these funding opportunities, you must first complete an eligibility quiz. If you’re eligible, you can register for the foundation’s online application system. Through this system, you’ll be able to browse and apply for available grants.
8. Walmart Foundation
The Walmart Foundation provides nonprofit grants quarterly through local Walmart and Sam’s Club facilities. These grants range in amounts from $250 to $5,000 and are awarded to local nonprofit organizations to fund projects in their communities.
You can apply for a grant in eight funding areas, including community and economic development; diversity and inclusion; education; and public safety, among others. To get started, you’ll answer an eligibility questionnaire and if you qualify, you’ll be directed to create an account on CyberGrants FrontDoor.
Once you’ve been verified on the CyberGrants platform, you can submit your grant application. The Walmart Foundation allows you to submit a maximum of 25 applications during each yearly grant cycle.
9. Bank of America Charitable Foundation
The Bank of America Charitable Foundation provides grants to nonprofits that are focused on addressing issues related to economic mobility, such as workforce development, education and community development.
Every year, the foundation issues requests for specific grant proposals. In 2023, for example, nonprofit organizations could submit proposals for two categories:
Economic mobility focused on the needs of individuals and families (including jobs and health).
Economic mobility focused on the needs of the community (including affordable housing, neighborhood revitalization and small-business resiliency).
To apply, nonprofits must complete an eligibility quiz before receiving access to the online application portal. Grant categories for 2024 have not yet been announced.
10. Home Depot Foundation Veteran Housing Grants Program
The Home Depot Foundation administers a grant program specifically designed for nonprofits that work to create supportive housing for veterans. Eligible projects include new construction or rehabilitation of multifamily, permanent and supportive veteran housing facilities.
These veteran-focused grants are typically awarded in amounts ranging from $100,000 to $500,000. Although the Home Depot Foundation provides grants to nonprofits across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, it focuses on large cities (populations with over 300,000 people), including Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Houston and Detroit, among others.
Applications can be submitted online and are accepted year-round. Final determinations are made three times a year. The foundation has not yet released dates of 2024 determinations.
Corporate grants for nonprofits
Many corporations and large companies, like Google and Amazon, issue grants for nonprofits. These programs may offer general financial support, fund individual projects or provide free access to nonprofit tools and services.
11. Amazon Web Services (AWS) Imagine Grant
Amazon offers two annual technology grants for nonprofits through its AWS Amazon Imagine Grant program.
The first grant — the Go Further, Faster Award — is given to innovative nonprofit projects that leverage the cloud. These projects will use the application of advanced cloud services, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning or high-performance computing to create scalable solutions for a specific industry or field.
Winners will receive an unrestricted grant of up to $150,000; up to $100,000 in AWS promotional credit; project implementation guidance from AWS technical specialists; and access to AWS training and support.
The second grant — the Momentum to Modernize Award — offers funding to help nonprofit organizations enhance their operations through technology. Eligible projects might include migrating servers to the cloud or modernizing new and existing applications.
Awardees will receive an unrestricted grant of up to $50,000; up to $20,000 in AWS promotional credit; project implementation guidance from AWS technical specialists; and access to AWS training and support.
To qualify, you must be a nonprofit organization with 501(c) status or equivalent. Applications are accepted once per year through the AWS website.
12. State Farm Good Neighbor Citizenship Company Grants
State Farm offers three types of community nonprofit grants:
Safety grants. Focus on home and auto safety and disaster preparedness.
Community development grants. Support affordable and sustainable housing, job training, small-business development, personal financial literacy, among other initiatives.
Education grants. Funds awarded to programs in higher education, K-12 academic performance and financial literacy, and pathways for college and career success.
Currently, State Farm grant applications are invitation-only once per year. However, if you think your nonprofit has a qualifying project for one of these grants, you can submit a funding request through a form on the State Farm website.
13. Google Ad Grants
Google Ad Grants provide eligible nonprofits with up to $10,000 per month in search ads shown on Google.com. These ads can be used to support marketing efforts, attract donors and recruit volunteers.
To qualify, your nonprofit must be a registered charitable organization with a high-quality website. You can apply for one of these grants through Google for Nonprofits.
Google for Nonprofits offers access to Google products at no charge. Through this product, your organization can use Google Workspace for Nonprofits (which includes Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar and Google Meet), Google Ad Grants, YouTube Nonprofit Program and the Google Maps Platform.
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14. The Unless Project
The Unless Project is a nonprofit accelerator program designed to assist organizations with limited resources and help them become as successful as possible. The program is run by A Little Better Co, or ALBC, a marketing and public relations firm.
Each year, ALBC chooses four nonprofit organizations, one that falls into each of its four focus areas:
Human health and wellness.
Social progress and advocacy.
These four nonprofits go through a six-month intensive program worth up to $150,000 in services and resources. Each company receives a small cash grant of $2,500, but the majority of value from this program comes from the guidance in strategy, branding, marketing and analysis, among other services from ALBC.
If you think your nonprofit may be a good fit, you can take an eligibility quiz on the ALBC website and then start the application process.
15. Aldi Cares Community Grants
The Aldi Cares Community Grants program offers free funding to nonprofits who focus on addressing diversity, equity and inclusion, food insecurity and children’s health and wellness. These grants are available in amounts ranging from $250 to $5,000.
Aldi accepts grant applications every year between February 1 and December 15. Nonprofits can apply at any time during that period, but can only receive funding once per year. If you’re denied, however, you can reapply for a grant after six months.
Before applying, you must register and receive verification from YourCause, a nonprofit software platform. Once you’re verified, you can submit your application online under the Aldi division closest to your location.
How to find grants for nonprofits
Finding nonprofit grants can be time-consuming — and applications are often competitive. However, if you devote the necessary time and effort, you may be able to secure free funds for your organization.
Use these tips to get started.
Review your mission
You can start by reviewing your nonprofit’s mission and what the organization hopes to achieve. Understanding your mission and goals will help you target the right grantmakers and create a compelling grant proposal.
Refine your search with keywords
Although there are many grants available for nonprofits, not all of them will apply to your organization. You can streamline your research process by searching with the right keywords.
Focus your grant search using keywords that relate to your mission, goals and specific project.
For example, if you’re looking to fund a clean water project, you might include words like “environment,” “sustainability” or “sanitation” in your search.
Narrow down based on location
Location can also help you find suitable grants for your nonprofit. Many community groups offer nonprofit grants specifically to organizations within their state, city or local area.
Your state or local government may issue nonprofit grants as well. It can be helpful to add your location to your online search keywords or go directly to local government sites to see what opportunities may be listed.
Look for organizations with similar values
A foundation or company that has similar values to your nonprofit may offer grants that are well suited to your funding needs.
For example, if your nonprofit focuses on supporting youth in sports, you might look for other organizations that do the same. If one of these companies offers a grant program, you may be more likely to qualify.
Consider hiring a grant writer
Professional grant writers can provide expertise to help you through the search and application process. These writers maintain relationships with foundations and other companies in their area, which allows them to recommend grant options that are suitable for your nonprofit.
Grant writers draft and refine grant proposals, keep track of eligibility requirements and manage deadlines. Using a grant writer will also free up time for your staff and volunteers to work on other projects.
More resources for nonprofits: