Start-Up Grants For Nonprofits

Last Updated on September 1, 2023 by Lori Pace

It takes hard work and dedication to start a nonprofit, but it is possible! Every year, thousands of nonprofits receive grants. Asking for advertising grants, grants from the government, matching grants and other grants is one of best ways to start for start-up in nonprofits. Grand-providing organizations, such as foundations and governments, are always open to helping!

Start-Up Grants For Nonprofits


Corporate philanthropy can be a significant contributor to non-profit organizations. The most popular grant program is the one that matches employees’ volunteer time with a company’s financial contribution.

Researching companies that may have interests in supporting your cause is the best way to obtain grants for nonprofit startups through corporate companies. You need to find a company that can contribute financially that aligns with you morally.

Private Foundations

Private foundations are there to support non-profit organizations. You may not know where to start if you don’t know where to look for the right private foundation that will grant you a grant.

Although private foundations will often grants to help start nonprofits, it is a good idea to prepare before approaching foundations. It is a good idea to keep these valuable items on hand:

  • Cover letter for startup funding
  • A business plan or some other type of structural plan for your company
  • Description of your mission and the focus areas of your non-profit
  • Financial projections and financial needs

This information is a requirement by most foundations to grant you a grant. Make sure you have it ready and include it with every application.

Federal Government Start-Up Grants For Nonprofits

Federal agencies that the government funds, give grants to nonprofit businesses for starting a business or to support certain programs.

Although federal grants require lengthy grant applications and paperwork, they are a good place to begin. National endowments, which supports non-profit organizations and businesses, are the two largest federal grant-giving bodies. These include:

The National Endowment for the Arts

This federal agency is independent and provides funding and support that allows Americans to engage in the arts, develop their creativity, and exercise their imaginations. They offer cost-share matching grants to nonprofit organizations for a variety of arts projects, literature fellowships, Partnership Agreements with the 62 state/jurisdictional art agencies, and regional arts organizations.

The National Endowment for the Humanities

A government agency independent of the federal government. It serves and strengthens the republic by promoting excellence and teaching lessons from history to all Americans. Usually, NEH grants go to museums, archives, libraries and colleges.

non-profit startups
There are grants to support non-profit startups.
  • What To Do

First, register your company at Then you must meet all requirements to be eligible for a federal grant. It can be difficult to apply for federal grants. You must submit separate applications if you apply for multiple grants.

Federal grants are competitive so don’t be discouraged! Take it easy and learn as you go. It doesn’t mean that your nonprofit isn’t worthy of funding. Sometimes, another nonprofit is a better match for your organization or you just happened to get there first.

State Governments

Grants are available from individual states for non-profit organizations. There will be a variety of grants from each state, with different missions and topics. Find these grants on the state websites. They will often provide a starting point as well as a list of grants they offer.

To find grants options, you might contact the following departments:

  • Department of Health
  • Department of Jobs and Family Services
  • Department of Human Services
  • Department of Development
  • Department of Small Business Development
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Transportation
  • City Councils

Even if the grants aren’t listed on the department’s website, you can still email them! Sometimes governmental websites don’t have updates regularly so it doesn’t hurt to ask. You might find that your state still has funds available to distribute to you if the fiscal year is ending.

Local Governments

Grants by cities and towns to improve the quality of life in their communities and support cultural activities. To be eligible for the majority of these grants, an organization must be based in their locality or an affiliate/chapter within a larger organization.

The Process Of Securing Start-Up Grants For Nonprofits

Research is the first step in obtaining a grant. The grant writing and preparation can be difficult, as we have already mentioned. Take the time to prepare grant writers and staff for the application process. This will help reduce stress and avoid unnecessary strain. 

Pre-Award Phase

During this phase, your organization will search for grants that are available and that match your mission. This is the time you register your company or organization. It usually involves ensuring that you meet all requirements. This phase also includes applying for grants. You will need to complete the entire application or proposal before you submit.

The Award Phase

If your organization was accepted for the award, they will be notified. The funds will then be distributed. You should be aware that the distribution process will differ from grant to grant.

Post-Award Phase

The grant requirements will include the specific use of the grant. After the awarding of grant, it is necessary to provide some reporting about the funds. Reports will inform the grantee about the financial status and the progress of the grant program. Even after the awarding grant, you must ensure that you meet the grant requirements.

How To Secure The Start-Up Grants For Nonprofits

Grant writing is an essential part of the creation and maintenance of your nonprofit. There are several steps you can take in order to secure the grant of your dreams.

Secure The Start-Up Grants For Nonprofits

Start Small – Get Bigger

Your time should be spent where it has the greatest impact. You have a high chance of winning grants if you are sure you meet all the criteria. The process for larger grants can be more complex and take longer, so it is worth looking at the low-hanging fruits first. One large source of funding may not be as effective as a few smaller ones.

National foundations and larger foundations might not be willing to finance organizations still in their infancy. It’s not personal. They have their own goals to reach. It can be time-saving to focus your efforts on the organizations most likely to fund you, before trying to apply for a national grant.

Begin by looking for grants in your local area. This will allow you to improve your grant-writing skills and will help build your organization’s reputation. There are cases when larger grants are given to organizations just starting out. However, it is better to start small to allow yourself to grow.

Form Relationships

It is essential that you have a good relationship with grant-giving institutions or foundations in order to be able to submit grant proposals. It’s also a great idea to build a network of people who can assist you in your endeavors. A casual meeting is a great way to establish a connection and show your support for the nonprofit’s mission.

You don’t have to be involved in the establishment or foundation alone if you are just beginning. Begin with friends and family, as well as friends of friends who are involved in the grant-getting process. Look for people with connections in the community. People with connections can help you connect to the right people and give you information about institutions that grant grants.

Find Fiscal Sponsors

Most likely, gaining nonprofit status via a 501 (c)(3) was one of your first actions. If you have not applied for this status, you may be eligible for a fiscal sponsorship that will enable you to apply for grants from foundations.

Fiscal sponsorship is an arrangement which allows an organization to apply for grants or solicit tax-deductible contributions without being exempted from 501(c). A fiscal sponsorship agreement allows an organization to raise money and attract donors, usually during its startup phase. You can also use a fiscal sponsor to outsource administrative responsibilities.

Find The Right Start-Up Grants For Nonprofits

You should not apply for grants that are only for capital campaigns that involve building construction if you really need one that will cover the daily operating costs. A macro-level check to ensure that the institution providing the grant is in line with your organization’s mission, values and principles. You could lose supporters and put your reputation at risk if there isn’t a mutual understanding or morality.

Pay Attention To Guidelines

The grant criteria vary greatly from the federal level to the municipal level to the private foundation level. It is important to take the time to assess whether you are eligible for the grant. The guidelines are important to know. You will be able to report to the grant-giving institution how the money has been used and whether any progress is being made with the money.

Deadlines are another important guideline to follow. You must adhere to any deadlines that have been set. It would be shameful to miss out on the grant that you’re interested in because you didn’t meet a deadline.

Lori Pace
Lori Pace

Lori Pace is a single mother of three daughters ages 7 and under. As a working mom from home, she balances kids, work and two crazy dogs with humor and love. Follow Lori as she honestly gives tips and advice based on her own experiences as a single mom!