In the vast and often overwhelming landscape of nonprofit funding, smaller organizations frequently find themselves navigating the shadows of larger, more established entities. This can mean that grassroots organizations operating on the slimmest margins are those for whom it is hardest to find financial support.
Grants for nonprofits are among the most valuable sources of funding available, but also often among the most competitive.
However, the silver lining is that there are numerous grant opportunities specifically crafted for smaller nonprofits. These grants ensure that even small- and medium-sized organizations receive the resources, support, and recognition they deserve.
If you are part of a nonprofit that is ready to grow, but which may struggle to compete for popular grants more often awarded to behemoth organizations, this guide is for you. Read on for a list of grants for small nonprofits and additional resources.
Table of Contents
1. The Google Grant
The Google Ad Grant is one of the most impactful grants available to nonprofits. And the best part? There’s no competition to get it. Google offers any eligible nonprofit $10,000 per month in search advertising, providing small organizations with expensive real estate on the world’s most popular website — for free. For smaller nonprofits, this is a golden ticket to increased visibility, outreach, and potential donor engagement, all without draining limited advertising budgets.
While the grant criteria is simple — any 501(c)(3) with a good website can get it — the application and management processes can demand significant time and expertise in order to get the most from the program. But NPM is here to help. We have a 100% success rate in securing the grant for eligible organizations, and have delivered outstanding results for hundreds of nonprofits. Need more proof of how impactful the Google Grant coupled with expert management can be? Check out these case studies from nonprofits of all sizes, and connect with us if you’re interested in getting the same results!
2. The Walmart Foundation
Walmart’s impact on small businesses and organizations has at times been a matter of contention. To this end, one of their charitable programs, the Walmart Foundation, seeks to provide these same organizations and their communities with service, support, and upliftment.
The Walmart Foundation has curated grants that support grassroots initiatives and local or smaller nonprofits specifically. These grants, ranging from $250 to $5,000, are disbursed quarterly, unlike many grants that are disbursed yearly or biannually. This consistent cycle ensures that smaller nonprofits have multiple opportunities to tap into these resources, and that they have a more consistent source of funding than annual and non-recurring grants.
The foundation’s emphasis on local, community-driven projects ensures that even the smallest initiatives can receive support to make a tangible, lasting impact in their communities. Learn more about the Walmart Foundation and how to apply on their website.
By total grant value, the US government is one of the largest grantmakers worldwide. Thousands of grants are available from scores of governmental agencies, many being perfect for small nonprofits who may struggle to procure private funding.
The Grants.gov platform is more than just a database; it’s a universe of opportunities. Listing thousands of federally funded grants, it’s a goldmine, especially for smaller nonprofits. Visitors can filter grants by sponsor to find those that align with their mission, find information on state-level grants, and create workspaces to make grant management and application easier.
By exploring this platform, organizations can uncover a plethora of opportunities spanning various federal departments. Each grant comes with its own unique focus, eligibility criteria, and mission alignment, ensuring a diverse range of opportunities that cater to different niches, making it an indispensable resource. The sheer number of grants available ensures that many will be less competitive than those with few opportunities and many applicants.
4. AWS Imagine Grants
In today’s digital age, individuals and nonprofits alike interact with tech giants like Amazon daily. Even if you aren’t shopping online, Amazon Web Services (AWS) hosts nearly 10% of all websites worldwide and a staggering 40% of global cloud services.
With AWS Imagine Grants, Amazon looks to put this Goliathan reach to work for the small but mighty “Davids” online.
AWS Imagine offers combined grants comprising no-strings-attached cash support, in-kind AWS credit, technical support, and Amazon network marketing opportunities. This holistic support ensures that smaller nonprofits can seamlessly modernize their digital infrastructure, enhancing their online presence, operations, and donor engagement.
What’s more, these grants are designed specifically for those looking to modernize their operations and online presence — often a critical step for smaller nonprofits, but one that is cost prohibitive on a slim budget, and impossible without extensive (i.e., expensive) technical guidance. AWS seeks to put all of this within reach for smaller organizations with the Imagine Grant.
5. The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
Spanning five distinct categories — housing, health, jobs, education, and community services — this foundation has consistently been a beacon of hope for diverse nonprofits. With an annual disbursement of approximately 300 grants, the chances of securing funding are significantly higher than with many other grantmakers.
The foundation’s commitment to a broad spectrum of causes ensures that smaller nonprofits, regardless of their focus, have a genuine shot at receiving the support they need. They even have a special Small Grants Program with a streamlined application and review process perfect for small and midsized nonprofits.
These grants have relatively simple eligibility terms, making them perfect for nonprofits early on in their path to growth. A 501(c)(3) must provide direct services to low-income and vulnerable populations, have audited financial statements, and have been in operation for three years. You can find out more about how the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation gives here.
6. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
This foundation, with its eclectic grant program, stands as a testament to the diverse causes it supports. Grants can range from a “modest” $20,000 to a whopping $1 million. Despite these sizable amounts, the foundation’s expansive focus and sheer volume of grants ensure that smaller nonprofits aren’t lost in the crowd but have a genuine opportunity to secure substantial funding.
The Hewlett Foundation provides nearly 1,000 grants every year in 11 diverse categories:
- Performing Arts
- SF Bay Area
- U.S. Democracy
- Economics and Society
- Effective Philanthropy
- Gender Equity and Governance
- Racial Justice
- Special Projects
Explore William and Flora Hewlett Foundation grants further on their website.
7. The Pollination Project
This project is a testament to the power of nurturing budding changemakers. Offering seed funding to widely varied organizations, it ensures that emerging nonprofits see their innovative projects come to fruition.
With a commitment to disbursing 365 grants of $1,000 annually, the Pollination Project is perfect for nonprofits on the cusp of that next level. Their grant application process is open to anyone worldwide, emphasizing the importance of grassroots, community-driven solutions.
They prioritize projects that are in their early stages, led by small groups, and are rooted in compassion for all beings. This commitment to fostering positive change is evident in their diverse range of funded projects, from environmental initiatives to social justice campaigns and local art programs.
By providing these seed grants, the Pollination Project seeks to uplift small nonprofits with big promises. You can find more about this grantmaker and apply for a grant today on the Pollination Project website.
8. The Awesome Foundation
Living up to its name, the Awesome Foundation offers simplicity, accessibility, and genuine support. By providing micro-grants, it ensures that even the most modest nonprofits can secure funding without the daunting maze of paperwork or rigorous scrutiny typical of many grants.
They take this commitment to simplicity to extreme ends in their effort to remain accessible to even the smallest teams covering the most varied responsibilities. In fact, their application form is linked prominently on their front page, and consists of only three questions:
- “Tell us about your awesome project!”
- How will you use the money?
- Tell us a little about yourself”
You have the option to upload images as well, though it is not necessary. The Awesome Foundation not only encourages brevity and accessibility in grant application, but enforces it, with a 2,000-character limit (~350 words) for the first question, and 500 characters for the next two, about 90 words each. (For context, you’ve now read over 9,000 characters in this piece, more than three times the length of the entire Awesome Foundation application!)
Their unwavering commitment to making grants accessible ensures that smaller nonprofits are not just considered but celebrated.
9. Community Foundations
Topping the lists of the most generous grantmakers in the US every year are a number of “Community Foundations.” These are public charities with unique structures funded by individuals, families, businesses, and governmental programs. Given each’s focus on a specific region, they can be less competitive for small nonprofits than grantmakers that fund national and international nonprofits.
These foundations support projects with diverse goals, ensuring that even nonprofits with niche missions can find funding matches for their programs. And it isn’t only major metropolitan areas with the best-funded community foundations. A list of top grantmakers by annual giving includes the following community organizations (and many more!):
- Silicon Valley Community Foundation
- Foundation for the Carolinas
- The Chicago Community Trust
- The Greater Kansas City Community Foundation and Affiliated Trusts
- The Columbus Foundation
- Community Foundation of Greater Memphis
- Community Foundation of Tampa Bay
These foundations’ deep-rooted commitment to local upliftment ensures that community-centric nonprofits, especially smaller ones, receive the recognition and support they deserve. Their grants are tailored to resonate with local needs, making them invaluable for grassroots initiatives. Research your local community foundation for local funding sources!
10. Formula Grants
Revolutionizing the traditional grant model, formula grants offer a refreshing approach that is perfect for smaller nonprofits. These grants generously eschew all competition for a focus on criteria.
Formula grants have a predetermined set of criteria for applicants. So long as you meet these criteria, a nonprofit is guaranteed funding.
This model is a boon for smaller nonprofits, ensuring they receive resources based purely on merit and alignment, devoid of the usual competitive pressures. Grant availability, other applicants, brand awareness, or simply being lost in the noise — all concerns for small nonprofits in applying for larger grants — are of no concern with formula grants.
Formula grants tend to be offered in specific fields of philanthropy, like child welfare, energy efficiency, and juvenile justice. When you register to apply with Grants.gov, you can easily check your application eligibility for formula grants. A note on federal formula grants: they are often distributed in a sort of cascading system, in which the federal government grants regional and state agencies funding, and nonprofits apply for the federal funds through their local body, rather than directly from the federal source. View federal formula grantees on Grants.gov to find your associated regional grantmakers.
The Google Ad Grant is a unique formula grant in that it is available directly to nonprofits of all focuses and is entirely privately funded. So long as nonprofits meet the (relatively basic) eligibility criteria, they can receive $10,000 each month in search advertising without having to compete against other nonprofits in the application process.
This makes it a no-brainer for any nonprofit of any size, with securing and maximizing the Google Grant being a great first choice for those in search of high-impact, low-competition grants.
Big Money for Small Nonprofits
The realm of nonprofit funding is teeming with opportunities, and while you may have to look a little harder for those tailored for smaller organizations, doing so can turn your size into strength when applying for grants.
Many grantmakers recognize the passion, commitment, and potential of small and midsized organizations. By tapping into these curated resources, nonprofits can not only secure the funding they need, but also amplify their impact, reach, and legacy in the communities they serve. And ad grants are the place to start.
Leveraging the skills of a specialized grant management organization like Nonprofit Megaphone maximizes the benefits of your ad grants at minimal cost, affording you greater resources for and focus on your mission.
We’re proud to be a Google Premier Partner who’s helped hundreds of nonprofit organizations amplify their reach, drive website traffic, and boost clicks and conversions. Check out our case studies to learn more about our services, and connect with us today to learn how we can help equip your nonprofit to thrive!