By now, you have likely heard of the so-called “paradox of choice.” This is the idea that too many options can result in heightened stress and impaired decision-making.
If you are not familiar with this concept, picture yourself in a grocery store, trying to choose from half-dozen types of orange juice. Do you want lots of pulp, less pulp, or none at all? Do you want straight orange juice or a mixed blend? How do you know which to buy?
Researching and deciding which grants to apply to can bring on a similar feeling. The process of applying for grants is time-consuming and exhausting, so how can you be sure you are allocating your time and energy most effectively?
Connecting with corporations
One option for your nonprofit that you should explore is corporate backing. If there is a footprint for a Fortune 1000 company near you, whether it is a retail location, manufacturing facility, or corporate site; many companies show a high propensity for supporting nonprofit endeavors in areas where their employees live and work.
Tyson Foods, for example, lists on its corporate giving page a preference for grants that, “deliver programs within 20 miles of a Tyson Foods Production Facility…” Likewise, Target makes clear that it focuses its philanthropy on local communities, “whether in our hometown of Minneapolis-St. Paul, in the communities surrounding our stores, or in the countries where our supply chain exists.”
In researching and preparing a grant proposal, however, it is important not to assume that what is true for one company is true for all. As a contrast to Tyson Foods and Target, outdoor clothing brand Patagonia specifically, “funds projects that take place within the US and Canada and are either national in scope or are not local to one of our North American retail stores.”
Yet, while Patagonia’s focus is not local to its retail locations, the company does signal its desire to support specific causes through its giving program. One operative statement on the site is that Patagonia “support[s] local groups that work to protect local habitats and frontline communities through bold, original actions.” In the same vein, Tyson Foods also specifies that it targets its giving toward, “providing hunger relief.”
When it comes to researching corporate grants, you need to consider not only which companies have a footprint in your area, but also which companies’ products and services potentially align with your organization’s mission.
Tapping into a corporation’s philanthropic goals comes with a strong upside, as does connecting with foundations. While many corporations, like Patagonia, set forward a specific change they are looking to bring about in the world; foundations are often established along mission-driven lines, which can create a more direct path for finding mission alignment with your non-profit.
Consider the Ohio-based Columbus Foundation. Along with spelling out its overarching goals and vision, the foundation’s website lists several grant areas, including youth sports, education, and serving underprivileged families. Perusing websites like these, and networking with other nonprofit leaders in your area and your field of service, can help you become familiar with the opportunities near you.
And while many of the nation’s larger foundations are affiliated with corporations, connecting with a smaller entity, such as a family foundation, can yield long-lasting results for your nonprofit as your performance track record builds a reputation within a closely held organization.
A third source of grant funding is through local, state, and federal government programs. Although it can be especially intimidating to navigate some of the requirements and processes, the federal government and state governments award billions of dollars to nonprofits every year.
There are 26 grant-making agencies in the federal government alone, including AmeriCorps, Health and Human Services (HHS), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Veterans Affairs (VA). Along with these entities, each state offers its own repertoire of giving opportunities for nonprofits of various types. The state of Texas, for instance, offers close to 1,000 funding opportunities for nonprofits, which include “faith based organizations”, “social justice organizations”, and “religious organizations”.
At the local level, cities and municipalities also offer opportunities for grant funding. The City of Dallas, for example, lists the “Nonprofit Public Improvement (NPI) Program,” which “provide grants to Dallas nonprofit organizations for public improvement to facilities and infrastructure (such as ADA compliance conversion, facility improvement, and HVAC systems).”
In each case, whether federal, state, or local; grant opportunities are publicly available on the Internet, along with appropriate contact information and written parameters for eligibility.
Wrapping it up
As you consider and research your potential grant making partners, do not forget to keep your own organization’s goals front and center. It is easy to allow the wealth of opportunities to distract or overwhelm you—especially if this is a new process for you.
At The Nonprofit Advantage, we want to help. Contact us today. Let us help you find the best leads using our professional search resources. We will analyze your funding priorities and match 8-10 leads for grants matching your priorities and needs to corporate, foundation, state, and federal opportunities based on the funder’s stated priorities, 990 analysis, giving history, and funding requirements.
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