If You’ve Met One Type of Grant, You’ve Met Them All

Sections of this topic

    Not Exactly…
    There are a variety of grants available, but they’re not all the same. Sure, the basic proposal stuff will be the same: organization information, mission, history, and general agency overview, but the guts of these proposals may differ significantly.

    Program/Project Support Grants

    • The most common type of foundation grant, and funded by most foundations
    • Grants to support specific projects or programs
    • Require detailed program description, including: program need, target
      audience, and program goals and objectives
    • Require program evaluation section that specifically relates back to program
      goals and objectives
    • Require program budget including revenue and expenses in addition to annual
      operating budget
    • Often require a detailed listing of program activities and timeline
    • May also require personnel section with qualifications of program staff

    General/Operating Support Grants

    • Grants to support operating costs of an organization, also called unrestricted
      grants or general-purpose grants
    • Desirable, as they help “keep the lights on,” but not available from all
    • In place of specific program information, usually require section on programs
      and general activities of the organization
    • Require section that addresses the need to be satisfied and the population
      to be served
    • Evaluation section is often less specific than for program/project support
    • Require annual operating budget

    Capacity Building Grants

    • May seem very desirable – after all, what nonprofit doesn’t want to build
       capacity – but, and this is a big but, they have a very specific goal, and
       they are not funded by many foundations
    • Goal is to assist nonprofits in securing the professional assistance they need
       to address organizational development and effectiveness and enhance
       organizational capacity
    • Include support for short-term initiatives, including: strategic planning,
       organizational assessment, board development, financial management,
       information technology assessment/planning, among others
    • Most exclude hiring staff from list of allowed activities
    • Require capacity building plan, list of activities, timeline and evaluation

    Capital/Building Grants

    • Grants to support capital campaigns for building construction or acquisition
    • Not funded by many foundations
    • Usually require extensive financial data to show that completion of the project
       is financially feasible

    Matching/Challenge Grants

    • Help nonprofits increase their fundraising effectiveness by matching other
       donors’ contributions
    • Not funded by many foundations
    • Grant money is most often released after the challenge has been met;
       i.e., $100,000 in contributions has been raised as 1:1 match for the grant


    Lynn deLearie, owner of Lynn deLearie Consulting, LLC, helps nonprofit organizations develop, enhance and expand grant programs, and helps them secure funding from foundations and corporations. She can be contacted at lynn.delearie@gmail.com..