Government vs. Foundation Grants

Grants come from a variety of different sources, including governments, foundations, and corporations. But what does that really mean for you? Is there a difference when it comes to your writing your proposal? Are you more likely to receive a grant from a particular source? We’ve broken down our findings to help you understand the difference between the different grant sources.

Applying for grants (especially government grants) can be a lengthy, complex, and sometimes intimidating process. But, if you stay the course, you could be awarded a grant for your organization! Grants are awarded under specific conditions and fund a variety of projects and programs. Typically, grants often come with several spending constraints, as the funder often has a very specific purpose in mind. If you fail to comply with these conditions, you may need to repay back the grant and you could be blacklisted from grants in the future!

Government Grants

Where to find them: Many government grants are on Grants.gov; however, this site can be daunting, complex, and time-consuming for a first-time user. On the other hand, grant listing directories such as GrantWatch.com list all grants (including Federal, State, and Local government grants). GrantWatch also writes all the grant descriptions in layman’s terms, making them easy to understand. 

Who they’re for: Government grants are available to established nonprofit organizations, established for-profits/small businesses, as well as individuals that meet certain requirements.

How to apply: First, you need to read through and make sure you meet the eligibility criteria and requirements. Then, you will have to register a Grants.gov account before applying for any grant opportunities. Once you have registered your Grants.gov account, simply log in to complete and submit your application using the Grants.gov account ‘Workspace’. Once you have applied for a grant using your Grant.gov account, you will be assigned a tracking number. Use this number to track and check the status of your submitted application(s).

What are your chances of receiving a grant? In 2017, a survey reported that 36% of respondents received a grant from their Local government, 42% received a grant from the State government, and 33% received a grant from the Federal government.

Popular examples: PPP, EIDL, Restaurant Revitalization Fund.


Foundation & Corporation Grants

Where to find them: Did you know that up to 90% of foundations don’t publicly list their grants? Luckily, GrantWatch.com has done all the hard work for you and roughly 70% of their directory lists grants are from public and private foundations and corporations.

Who they’re for: Grants from foundations and corporations are available to nonprofits, for-profit businesses, individuals, and even startups! If your organization is small (budget under $1 million), new (in existence for less than five years), or has never received a grant larger than $45,000, the funders that will be the best fit for you are going to be smaller foundations and corporations. Meanwhile, the larger foundations can award some pretty hefty sums but you must generally have a prior grant award history.

How to apply: Most importantly, you need to read through and make sure you meet the eligibility criteria and requirements. No two funders are alike and you will need to follow the directions listed. Grants can be very specific when it comes to the industry, location, and program, they are willing to fund. To put it simply – if you do not qualify, do not apply. By far, the most frequent reasons that funders reject proposals include the request falls outside of the funder’s giving interests or the applicant didn’t follow the application guidelines.

What are your chances of receiving a grant? Private foundations continue to be a funding source for most respondents with 75% reporting that they received awards from private foundations.

Popular examples: Walmart’s Community Grant, or the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


Editor’s Note:

Remember, there is never a guarantee of being awarded a grant. However, with persistence and perseverance, you can be a grant recipient with time. Need some inspiration? A newly-formed nonprofit was awarded four grants in less than a year! Student-Led Ed, located in Chicago, was awarded more than $14,000 to help bridge the gap between youth and adult learning.

Another important tip is to make sure you are searching for grants the right way! When it comes to your grant search, remember: “not what grants you’re eligible for, but what programs of yours are eligible for grants.” If you go in with the mindset of “I need…,” then you may have difficulties finding potential grant opportunities. Whereas, if you search with the mindset of “does my project meet the needs of this grant,” you will open yourself up to more grant opportunities.

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