Don’t Miss the Boat: Uncovering New Sources of Grant Opportunities
I’m fairly confident that by the year 2021, philanthropy, not only in the U.S. but throughout the world, will wear a new face. These changes will open an expanded door of opportunity in the area of grantseeking for nonprofit organizations, educational institutions and regional governments. A global sensibility combined with an array of innovative technologies and attitudinal changes on the part of philanthropists will birth a new way, and perhaps a new wave, of giving. And we are witnessing the birth of many of these changes today.
Keeping abreast of trends can provide the grantseeker with that special edge needed to secure grant awards. I call this “knowledge-based grantseeking,” and, of course, the more information you have about who’s really “in the game” when it comes to supporting your work, the better.
You all have your special funding sources you go to, sometimes on a regular basis. Finding out who else out there might support your work often means leaving your comfort zone. To help expand your pool of potential funders, I’d like to share a few sources you might want to consider when building your funding strategy for this year and into 2020.
I am a big fan of associations. They are one of the “hidden treasures” when it comes to finding the funds to do your good work. It is often hard to uncover information about association giving, and that’s where a resource, like the GrantStation database, comes in handy. We pride ourselves on ferreting out those associations that award grants or products, making that research easy.
My favorite one is The Toy Foundation (administered by The Toy Association), which hosts The Toy Bank. Through The Toy Bank, the foundation collects millions of toys from toy companies and distributes them to thousands of children's charities around the globe, including those helping families struggling with poverty, foster children, with military families, kids undergoing cancer treatments, children with special needs, etc. It is a simple registration and application process. I just love the work these folks are doing.
Another good example of a little known, but very interesting association, is the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). This association is committed to helping families find comfort in their homes when they are at their most vulnerable. They make awards through the Opens Doors Foundation, which is the charitable arm of the MBA. Very cool program, and not well known.
I am also very excited about the growth of giving circles, both in the U.S. and Canada. There are now over 1,600 of giving circles in the U.S., most of them small and well known within their own communities. But there are also a number of these giving circles that have grown quite large and provide support over a broader geographic area.
A good example is the Building More Philanthropy with Purpose (BMPP) Giving Circle, which supports nonprofit organizations in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin that work to advance social justice in Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. This year, BMPP is especially interested in projects that support work that addresses the intersections of race/ethnicity, class and gender.
Impact 100 Garden State supports nonprofit organizations that make a difference in the lives of people living in five counties in New Jersey. They award high-impact grants of $100,000 to local nonprofit organizations working in a broad range of activities, from environment, to families, to the arts. (Five years ago, most giving circle awards were quite small, but today many giving circles are making more substantial awards.)
The GrantStation database profiles a number of giving circles that are active and accepting requests from a broad range of nonprofits. These are well worth checking out.
Then there are collaborative efforts springing up almost daily it seems. For example, the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund is a public-private sector partnership between the U.S. Department of State, Partners of the Americas and the Association of International Educators that aims to build a hemisphere of students ready to compete and thrive in the 21st century workforce. The fund provides grants to fuel strategic new university partnerships to increase student exchange and training programs between the Americas.
Another is the Audacious Project, housed at TED. This is a collaborative approach to funding ideas from throughout the world with the potential to create change at a “thrilling scale.” They invite visionary social entrepreneurs and nonprofits to submit their best and boldest ideas for tackling the world’s biggest challenges.
There are also a number of funders who don’t really meet the traditional “foundation” or “corporate-giving” profile. One of these is Borealis Philanthropy, which just announced the launch of the Spark Justice Fund, a new donor collaborative awarding over $1.7 million to eight organizations working in the area of justice reform. These kinds of collaborations keep popping up, and we all need to be on the lookout for them.
And of course, I need to touch on the fastest area of philanthropic growth: donor-advised funds (DAFs). These funds are set up by wealthy individuals who decide how and where funding is given. There are well over 270,000 donor-advised funds representing $80+ billion in assets just in the U.S. You probably already know about the DAFs housed at your regional community foundation, but there are also thousands of DAFs managed by financial services companies, and these can be very difficult to find.
It’s challenging to research DAFs. At GrantStation, we publish as much information as we can find regarding this area of giving, but the DAFs we ferret out are almost always part of a community foundation. We are particularly interested in DAFs managed by financial institutions and believe that they bear further investigation.
Keep your eye on our U.S. charitable database as we put on our detective hats, pull out our magnifying glass and start to identify where these funds are located and their specific areas of interest. Stay tuned while our researchers at GrantStation continue to unravel the mystery surrounding these DAFs.
There are numerous sources of financial support that many of us never think about when it comes time to fund a new project or program. Just keep some of these options in mind as you do your research, so you don’t miss the boat on a new source of revenue for your good work!
Cynthia Adams has been dedicated to helping nonprofit organizations identify and secure the funding they need to do their good work for well over 40 years.
Cynthia founded GrantStation because she believes that grantseeking requires a thorough understanding of the funders and sound knowledge of the philanthropic playing field.
Her life's work has been to level that playing field, creating opportunities for all nonprofit organizations, regardless of size or geographic location, to secure grant support.
Cynthia is founder and CEO of GrantStation.