The grant world can be confusing and challenging to maneuver for an experience grant writer, much less someone with little or no experience. It is important to understand the various kinds of grants and the organizations that oversee the granting process. The main two funding sources for grants are foundations and governmental agencies. The primary source for grants is foundations.

According to Wikipedia online, a foundation is a “legal categorization of nonprofit organizations that will typically either donate funds and support to other organizations, or provide the source of funding for its own charitable purposes.” Most foundations are established through a financial endowment from an individual or family interested in providing foundation grants for a specific charitable purpose. A financial endowment is a “transfer of money or property donated to an institution…an endowment may come with stipulations regarding its usage. In some circumstances an endowment may be required to be spent in a certain way.” Once you understand the legal mechanisms and basic funding of a foundation, you can clearly see the importance of finding a foundation that shares the same funding priorities as your foundation grant request.

The main recipient of foundation grants are not-for-profit organizations or other foundations. If you are a not-for-profit interested in foundation grants, the best place to begin your search is with a regional or state-wide organization that provides accurate information on all foundations that give grants to your geographical area (Some state agencies or local government offices can direct you to the correct agency). You will find that some organizations are setup to give foundation grants only to a set cause or organization. The foundation’s grants cannot be “solicited”, since the donor has placed restrictions on their financial gift.

As a foundation looking for grants, there are three types of funding sources – other foundation’s grants, financial endowments, and donations. A donation is a gift given usually for charitable purposes or to benefit a cause. Some foundation’s grants are given to other foundations that can acquire funds through capital campaigning or various fundraising methods by matching funds dollar for dollar. Other foundations give funds to startup foundations or to establish foundation funding sources for specific needs. However, the most common method for foundation funding is donations or financial endowments.

Whether your need is grants for a foundation or foundation grants for a not-for-profit, there is millions available through foundation funding. As you search through the endless possibilities, remember to look for funders that have mission statements and programs that closely match your organization’s priorities. For determining your eligibility for a grant, is the first step in successfully applying for foundation funding.