It is a challenge to sort out the various types of funding sources and grants available through private and government channels. 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. The mixing of private and government funding does occasionally occur. Sometimes a foundation is established by a donor with the sole purpose of funding a specific governmental project or program. This type of government foundation grants are off limits to outside funding request. Most of these types of foundations are for public policy research/changes or environmental impact projects.
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.
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.