If you are looking for grant funding on behalf of an established 501(c)(3) organization, foundation grants are a great place to look.

There are two types of foundations that make grants:

  1. Private Foundations.  These entities face an annual payout requirement wherein a certain amount of their assets must be given away.  To meet this payout requirement, they make grants to support nonprofit organizations whose mission aligns with theirs.  Private foundations get their money from a single source such as an individual, a family, or a corporation. 
  2. Grantmaking Public Charity.  These are also known as public foundations.  Grantmaking public charities get money from multiple sources including individuals, families, private foundations, and even government agencies.  These entities do not have minimum distribution requirements, however they can deduct contributions to 501(c)(3) organizations from their taxes.  Grants from public foundations have very specific guidelines for use of funds. 

Before you apply for a foundation grant, check to see if they accept unsolicited applications or if they require a letter of interest as the first step.  You will also want to see if their grants are location- or region-specific and save yourself the trouble of researching a grant that you don’t qualify for based on location.  Then, look at past grantees and projects the foundation has funded.  This can typically be found by searching their grant title with past grantees in a search engine if you cannot find it on their website.  Foundations are required to fill out Form 990s, which are publicly viewable.  If you pull these tax records, you can see what organizations were past grantees, or received funding from the foundation in question through other means.  You are looking for evidence that they have supported organizations similar to yours in the past, and funded projects similar to the one you are seeking to propose.

Think about for what specifically you are asking for funding.  For example, foundation grants do not tend to fund operating costs, but they do tend to fund creating a new program, or expanding the capacity of an existing program.  For this reason, you can expect your application to include your plan for how to sustain the program in question when grant funding runs out.  Foundations are looking for grants that leverage their money for build sustainable programs that provide measurable returns in the form of resources and services that align with their values, to further their goals.

Finding active foundation grants can be tricky.  We are here to help!  Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have on your grant search.