One of the most daunting barriers when starting out writing grants is what all the different types of funders are. There are many, many sources of grants, but not all grant-making entities are created equally. Here’s a quick outline.

Government agency: There are local (city and county), state, regional and national grants in nearly any field you can think of. If you’re not sure which agency might have grants that you can apply to, check out grants.gov which has an easy search option. Make sure you also develop relationships with elected officials and their aids at all government levels, as they will have ear-to-the-ground knowledge about what money is available and when, as well as the ability to guide you through the earmark process (protip– it’s not just a matter of them writing you in. Elected officials have to go through an application process to get an earmark).

Corporate Foundation: a foundation funded as a line item in a corporate budget. Subject to all laws pertaining to foundations and public charities.

Corporate giving program: corporate money in a giving program generally not incorporated separately from the parent corporation, and not subject to foundation regulations regarding reporting and what they can fund.

Sponsorship: generally from regular corporate line items, most often marketing or executive discretionary funding. Will have a quid-pro-quo component.

Family Foundation: family money funding a 501 corporation for the purposes of charitable giving. Generally from a single family, most often with first or second generation family members directly in charge. Behaves like individual gifts (i.e. personal connection, generally informal application process, often won’t accept unsolicited asks), for instance the Pauls Foundation.

Community Foundation: large private foundation doing both direct and donor advised giving. Often manage funds for family foundations or for unincorporated family giving.

Private Foundation: Family and community foundations are private foundations, but this term is generally used to indicate a family foundation that has outlived the original donors, or where the family has stepped back from daily operations, or has taken a less active role, for instance the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fdn.

Service Organization: Kiwanis, Lions, Rotary, etc.

Volunteer Programs: Gifts of time are also donations. In particular, large corporations often have robust volunteer programs, some of which come with money and or inkind goods. This is a great way to get your foot in the door, or earn brownie points with an individual donor who works for one of these companies.
Check out “Who ya gonna call?” to find out how to contact everyone.

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