Typically, you think of grants as large sums of money that you get from a foundation that come with a laundry list of stipulations. That’s mostly right, but grants can be used for many purposes that are outside of the box, including supporting your online fundraising and crowdfunding campaigns.

Below is an overview to using grants, and you can read the full guide by visiting our free guide to grants for online fundraising.

SaplingWhy you need to look for grants

Let’s talk basics.

In general, there are three big reasons why you should pursue grants for your organization:

1. They help your nonprofit grow

As a growing nonprofit, you have a range of funding needs. Generating support from different sources can both help grow your revenue overall, and provide different pools of funding to support different efforts within your nonprofit.

Grants can range in size from a few hundred dollars to millions of dollars, depending on the source, type, and purpose of the grant.

2. They help you reduce risk

Just like balancing your retirement fund, having different types of donations can help you reduce risk.

If you rely too heavily on one source of funding, and that source of support disappears, you can end up in dire financial straits.

3. They can come in large sums

While some grants are small, grants are typically larger sums of money than most individual donations.

A grant can be tens of thousands of dollars — or even millions! Grants can also be awarded over a period of years (e.g., $60,000 over 3 years, which results in $20,000 going to the nonprofit per year), and can be helpful in making a larger investment in a specific program.

Three methods in using grants for online fundraising

Even though the primary purpose for grants is to help your organization grow, they can be used to increase your online fundraising results too.

Let’s walk through three common methods on using grants for online fundraising.

Method 1: Donation matching

One of the proven ways to instantly get more online donations is to use a matching grant as an incentive. Nonprofits typically structure a campaign by saying a foundation will match donations up to a certain limit or the grant will only be made if individual donations exceed a certain goal.

Case: The Adventure Project World Water Day Campaign

The Adventure Project (TAP) received a pledge from the Prem Wat Foundation to provide a grant of $10,000 if TAP was able to raise $10,000 online for World Water Day. The matching grant spurred donors and personal fundraisers to action. TAP exceeded their fundraising goal in 24 hours.

Method 2: Capacity building

The more equipped a nonprofit’s staff is, then the more they will be able to create a social impact. Grants can be used to fund training in online fundraising as well as fundraising consulting services from an experienced professional.

Case: Restore NYC Brick by Brick Campaign

Restore NYC received a $70,000 pledge from a major donor if they were able to raise $50,000 online through new donors. Within 40 days, Restore NYC exceeded their goal. Some donors even created their own matching donation on their personal fundraising page.

Method 3: Social proof

Donors want to make sure that their donation is going to a trustworthy and credible nonprofit. The indirect benefit of receiving a grant is that your organization is validated and proven trustworthy.

With a grant, you have the ability to say that professionals and large funders have reviewed you.

Getting started with grant proposals

Writing effective grant proposals is both an art and a science. Here are a few tips to help get you started.

  1. Understand funder requirements
  2. Gather content about your nonprofit
  3. Write compelling prose
  4. Produce tight financials
  5. Proofread!

You can read more about grants by visiting our free comprehensive guide to grants for online fundraising.

Dahna Goldstein contributed to this article. She is the Founder and CEO of Philantech and was named one of BusinessWeek’s 25 Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs.

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Rob Wu
Rob Wu is the CEO of CauseVox, a crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising platform for nonprofits and social good projects. Rob has raised over $200,000 for his own social good crowdfunding projects, and his work has been recognized by the Mayor of Austin and featured in the NYTimes, CNN, Christian Science Monitor, and WSJ.