My Tax-Exempt Status is Pending. Can I Still Apply for Grants?

Are you interested in applying for grant funding for your nonprofit? With more than 5,000 grants currently available to nonprofit organizations through, it is an enticing prospect to consider. But, what if your tax-exempt status is still pending? Can you still apply for grants?

What Grants Can You Apply For?

Keep in mind, that most grants will require you to include proof of nonprofit status. Unfortunately, this means that you won’t be able to apply while your tax-exempt status is pending. However, you can still look for grants with future deadlines and prepare in advance.

The IRS says that you should expect to hear from them within 180 days after submitting your Form 1023 application. However, this could be longer, with some organizations reporting up to a year of waiting. If you are thinking of searching for grants with a future deadline, we recommend looking for grants that have a deadline of at least six months out, or better yet, have an ongoing deadline.

Since you will be lacking a grant award history, micro-grants and in-kind grants can be great starting points for helping you build one. A micro-grant is any funding opportunity under $10,000, while an in-kind grant is usually provided in the form of goods or services.

Prepare to be Grant Ready

While your tax-exempt status is pending, you can ensure that your organization is grant-ready by aiming to have the following:

  • A website
  • Unique Entity Identifier (UEI number replacing DUNS)
  • Employer/Tax Identification Number (EIN)
  • Bylaws and other governing documents 
  • Diverse Board of Directors
  • The annual budget for the organization
  • Business plan for the organization
  • Organization mission and goals, population served
  • Organizational history & measured outcomes for impact on your community
  • The organizational chart and description of management structure, size of staff, number of volunteers
  • Tax and financial data. (For example, the most recent annual and quarterly financial/audit statements)
  • Sufficient, skilled resources to devote to grant development (either in-house, contracted, or a combination of these)

Finally, all you will need next is a copy of your 501(c)3 status letter with the start date for your nonprofit status. While you may not be eligible for most grants now, you can still lay the groundwork for applying soon. We wish you the best of luck with starting your nonprofit!

With close to 8,000 grants currently available, is the leading grant listing directory. Upgrade to a MemberPlus+ subscription to view the full grant details, including eligibility criteria and application information. For more information, you can also visit the GrantWatch FAQ page. To see the great value of all 20 of the top GrantWatch features, click here.

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