Grant Services - Advice and Tips

Finding Grants that Match Your Needs: Different Funding Sources

Thu, Jun 13, 2013 @ 08:06 AM / by Alisyn Franzen

Not long ago, we did a series on government funding and how the new fiscal habits have changed the face of grant funding. Now more than ever, many organizations are being forced to rely on non-government funds as a source of funding. In this blog, part one of a two-part series, we discuss some of the differences in funding sources (information from the United States Department of Agriculture’s “A Guide to Funding Resources” as well as some of the questions to consider when beginning your funding search. In part two of this series, we will go into more depth regarding those same questions and provide some examples of finding good matches.

 Funding Sources

What are the differences among typical grant funding sources?

Federal Government: The Federal government awards several different types of grants.

    • Formula Grants: This type of grant uses a specific formula to distribute grants to certain states. The formula takes into account factors such as per capita income and mortality or morbidity rates.
    • Block Grants: These give states funding for a specific purpose. After states receive funding through formula or block grants, it is then up to the states to decide how to use the money.
    • Research Grants: Research grants, as they suggest, support research or application of new or revised facts and theories.
    • Demonstration Grants: These grants are used to support the feasibility of a specific theory or approach.
    • Project Grants: These fund individual projects and gives the funding agency choice of the project, which organization is awarded the money, and how much money is awarded.


State Government: These grants vary by state and are usually administered through state departments, such as a Department on Aging, Public Health, or Emergency Administration. 


Private Foundations: Private foundations are another primary funder, and they exist in a variety of forms, as outlined below.

    • Private Foundations: These foundations get income from individuals, families, or groups. Private foundations usually award grants based on their personal philosophies. Examples: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Tiger Woods Foundation.
    • Corporate Foundations: These foundations are funded by profitable corporations. Examples: Target Foundation, Home Depot Foundation.
    • Community Foundations: These foundations are unique to their own community. Grants given from community foundations typically fund projects within the community or region.
    • Direct Giving Programs: These programs are usually branches of a corporation and donate goods and/or services to charitable causes. Examples: Home Depot Foundation, Lowe’s Charitable and Education Foundation (includes Lowe’s toolbox for Education)
    • Voluntary Agencies: Typically, these are private organizations that support charitable work that is tied to the agency’s overall mission. Example: The American Red Cross.
    • Community Groups: These are local organizations or groups and focus on supporting community-based projects. Examples: Junior Leagues, churches.


What questions should I consider when beginning to look for grants?

The following is a short list of questions that provide a good starting point for thinking about where to find funding. This list is by no means all-inclusive. We will discuss these questions in greater detail in part two of this series.

  • How much funding do we need?
  • What grants are worth going for? (Should we apply for a big grant? Is it better to apply for several smaller grants?)
  • Who will benefit as a result of the project we are trying to fund?
  • Which groups, corporations, etc. would be interested in funding this program/project?
  • What are the odds of receiving funding?
  • Is it worth the effort to pursue this particular opportunity?
  • Do we have the resources necessary to pursue this grant, or can we acquire them?
  • Can we meet all requirements, such as matching costs?

Again, these are only a few of the questions that can kick-start your thinking about grants and finding funding. Be sure to tune in to our final part of this two-part series, where we will discuss these questions and provide examples of how to find logical matches for grant funding. If you need assistance finding funding sources, you may want to consider joining our free Grant Watch List, or contact one of our experts for assistance. If you need help in deciding what grants are worth applying for, please do not hesitate to contact one of our grant experts. Remember, our initial consultations are always free.


Image credit: stevendepolo

Topics: finding grants, grant sources, funding sources, funding needs, federal grant, state grant, foundations, foundation grant, grant seeking, finding funding, looking for grants, private grant

Alisyn Franzen

Written by Alisyn Franzen

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