Nonprofit organizations pursue a wide range of important and beneficial missions – both in the United States and internationally. Included in this broad group are charities, schools and universities, environmental protection groups, religious and faith-based organizations, social welfare and advocacy groups, scientific institutions, non-governmental agencies, and many more.
Although 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofits are the most well-known, there are over 20 different types of classifications. If you’re interested in learning more on this topic, here are two authoritative sources of information: Charities & Nonprofits and Title 26 Internal Revenue Code, Subtitle A—Income Taxes, Chapter 1—Normal Taxes and Surtaxes, Subchapter F—Exempt Organizations, §501.
Grants for Nonprofits
Many federal grants are available to nonprofit organizations, including those with or without 501(c)(3) classification. In the Grants.gov Search page, we split nonprofits between those that have and do not have 501(c)(3) status because this is a distinction made both by federal awarding agencies and by authorizing legislation for the grant programs.
If you work with a nonprofit organization, including faith- or community-based organizations, you are eligible to apply for federal funding so long as these funds are used solely for the provision of social services and not used for “inherently religious” activities. For an explanation of what this means, and other guidelines, refer to the resources from the Administration’s Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
Okay, but how do I know if my nonprofit is eligible to apply for a grant?
If you’ve been reading our other Exploring Eligibility posts, you may already know that each grant program has different, sometimes specific, eligibility requirements.
As a prospective grant applicant, you need to take the time to carefully read the funding opportunity announcement to figure out if you are eligible to apply for the grant. Because the federal grant-making agencies have some options with how they construct their funding opportunity announcements, this eligibility information is not always in the same place.
When using the Grants.gov search, use the Eligibility search criteria to narrow your grant search results to those you may be eligible for. Once you’ve found a funding opportunity, the full, official eligibility requirements are in the funding opportunity announcement, which may be in the following locations:
- Synopsis tab, under Link to Additional Information.
- Related Documents tab, as a single PDF or in a zip file
- Package tab, then create a workspace or click the Download Instructions button
Another consideration after checking the eligibility is whether the grant program is aligned with your organization’s mission. Given the importance of a nonprofit’s mission, consider the alignment of the grant program with your organization as you review the funding opportunity announcement. Mission alignment will contribute to your application as well as implementing the program should you be awarded the grant. Once you’ve checked eligibility and considered alignment, you are ready to apply for a grant.
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