For nonprofit organizations, finding funding sources and creating a clear funding strategy are essential to success. Nonprofit organizations rely on various funding streams to stay in operation.
While it may seem like an easy task, it’s not always intuitive to know how to get funding for a nonprofit. With many options and funding models to consider, nonprofits often get stuck trying to find the best ways to find funding for their organizations. Keep reading to learn more about the basics of nonprofit funding strategies.
Nonprofit Strategic Plan
Many nonprofits often want to jump right to obtaining funding to help their programs stay afloat. However, it is important not to skip the planning and brainstorming steps. Creating a strategic plan for your organization involves a methodical and researched plan to help your nonprofit build a reliable revenue stream. This revenue stream supports an organization’s primary services and programs.
The funding model or strategy of each nonprofit may differ based on several factors. Depending on the organization’s makeup, location, donor base, etc, each organization may gather its funds differently.
While there are entire books written on nonprofit strategic plans, some of the basics include breaking down your organization into the percentage of earned vs. unearned income, and then further breaking down the unearned income (funding) into individual donations, corporate donations, local community grants, foundation grants and government grants.
The article primarily focuses on grant funding.
How to Get Funding for a Nonprofit
Nonprofit revenue streams often rely on numerous sources of income. These include individual donations, grants, corporate sponsorships, membership fees, selling goods or services, as well as in-kind donations (donations of goods or services). While all of these revenue streams are worthwhile, government and private grants often make up a sizable amount of a nonprofit’s revenue.
5 Steps to Selecting Funding Sources for Nonprofit Organizations
1) The first step in successfully securing funding for a nonprofit organization is thoughtful planning. Take time to consider your strategic plan before moving forward.
2) Evaluate your organization’s current funding streams. Are they aligned with your mission? Do they require a large time commitment? Consider ways your organization could potentially restructure your funding strategy for a better return on investment. If your organization utilizes a fundraising platform or software, the data collected can help your organization evaluate the effectiveness of your funding strategy.
3) Organize brainstorming sessions to think outside of the box. Analyze similar or nearby organizations to gain insight into effective funding strategies. At this point, your organization may benefit from professional guidance to create the best possible funding strategy for obtaining grants. A funding strategy takes the guesswork out of which grants you should apply for.
4) Consider the sustainability of your existing funding streams for the future.
5) Once you’ve solidified a funding model, develop an implementation plan. How will you bring your plan to life? Which of your staff will be responsible for implementation? A clear and realistic implementation plan is essential to help deliver the results you’re looking for. Furthermore, it can help your staff save time and strategically focus on the methods of fundraising that will yield the largest return on investment.
The Pros and Cons of Grants for Revenue
Grant funding is a great stream of revenue for nonprofit organizations as they often involve large sums of money. This means grants can effectively be used to make a widespread impact, helping to support large projects or initiatives. Receiving larger government grants (public) may also help your organization to gain credibility (thus leveraging more funds from other sources). Another advantage of grant funding is that the funds are “gifted” and do not require repayment.
When compared with other forms of fundraising, grants are far more time-consuming. It takes time to find the right grants, create winning applications, and then gather attachments and requirements necessary for submission.
Furthermore, grants often come with “strings attached”. This means nonprofits will need to report on how the money was spent (invoices, post-grant reports, etc). Most of the time, what you can spend grant money on is very specific. Many times, grants can’t be used for things you actually need, like general operating expenses or building improvements. Lastly, another con to consider is that grants are often short-term. Nonprofits need to continue to apply for grants for sustainability.
Overall, when it comes to determining how to get funding for a nonprofit, organizations must weigh the pros and cons of each type of fundraising. What works for one nonprofit organization may not work for another. Each organization has a unique set of needs and goals that influence fundraising plans.
Things to Consider: Grants in your Strategic Plan
If you’re considering grants as part of your strategic plan, consider the following questions:
- What resources can we invest in winning grant applications?
- Can we meet the conditions and terms of a grant?
- Do the activities allowed in the grant directly align with our mission and programming?
- Can this activity continue after grant funding ends? If so, how?
Where to Find Grants for Nonprofit Organizations
An important component of understanding how to get funding for a nonprofit organization involves understanding the various types of funding available. If you identified that grants are an important component of your funding model, it’s time to break that down one step further. What types of grants will your organization seek?
Nonprofit grant funding is available from a wide variety of different sources. These include local, state, and federal entities as well as private and public foundations. Depending on the services your nonprofit organization offers, you may wish to seek grants from more than one of these sources. Some grants will be restricted to specific locations, types of projects, or sizes of organizations. With this in mind, always be sure to read the requirements of a grant before moving forward.
Types of Grants
Including a mixture of different grants in your funding model can help to diversify your funding strategy. Types of grants available to nonprofits may include:
- Government Grants: Government grants include any grant application funded by the government (can include local, state, or federal opportunities). These types of grants may offer larger sums of money than private grants. However, they often have extensive requirements that may be time-consuming.
- Foundation Grants: Foundation grants can be a sizable revenue stream for your nonprofit organization. These types of grants come from foundations funded by bequests or through investments. Foundations of all different sizes may offer grants. (Example: The Rockefeller Foundation)
- Family Foundation Grants: This type of foundation is entirely funded by a family. For example, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a well-known family foundation on a national scale. Your local community may also have smaller family foundations with available grants.
- Private Foundations: Private foundations are founded with a single source of revenue. These foundations are often founded with a specific mission, of which they only fund grants within that niche.
- Corporate Grants: Corporate grants are grants funded by large corporations. For example, Home Depot offers corporate grants within its mission.
- Federated Funds: These types of funds are raised by a third party and then distributed to nonprofits. For example, your local United Way is a federated fund that may have grants to disburse funds
Note: These are a few of the most common grants nonprofits seek, although there are other types.
Overall, learning how to get funding for a nonprofit takes some time and effort. When it comes to securing funds for your nonprofit organization, start by creating a clear funding strategy plan. This plan will help your organization determine effective ways to generate revenue for your programs and service offerings.
Nonprofits must continually monitor and adapt to changes to continue to successfully fund their operations. Have funding strategy questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out to Kupala Ventures today by clicking the “I’m Ready” button below!