9 More Types of Grant Awards

In an earlier post I laid out the six most common types of grant awards. They were:

  • General Operating Grants

  • Program and Project Grants

  • Capacity Building Grants

  • Capital Grants

  • Endowment Grants

  • Matching Grants

While these are indeed the most common types of grants, they aren't the only types. Here are nine other kinds of grant awards that may be your right for your organization.

1. Challenge Grants

I mentioned challenge grants in the previous post as a type of matching grant. I’m calling them out more directly here because they can be a powerful fundraising tool. With a challenge grant, you ask the funder to provide seed money to spur additional giving from other foundations, corporations, or donors. Pursue this option with care, however. Even after you receive an award notification, you will still have a lot of fundraising left to do. And if you can’t raise the match, you won’t receive the challenge grant funds at all.

2. Employee Matching Grants

This is another type of matching grant. In this case, an employer matches donations made by its employees. Usually this is a straight 1:1 match. Other companies double, triple, or even quadruple the original gift! (Some companies also offer monetary gifts to match employees’ volunteer hours.) Employee matching grants differ in one major way from the other types I’ve discussed so far: your organization doesn’t submit an application to receive the funds. It’s up to your donor to submit a matching request to his or her company. As a nonprofit, it is worthwhile to periodically remind supporters to check with their employers’ H.R. departments to see if they offer an employee matching grant program.

3. Technical Assistance Grants

Technical assistance grants provide outside support for your organization, often by engaging the services of a financial expert, lawyer, strategic planner, fundraising guru, or other consultant. The language of “technical assistance” can be used interchangeably with the capacity building grants I mentioned in my first post on this topic. But some grantmakers differentiate between the two. For example, one of the largest foundations in Oregon, Meyer Memorial Trust, offers capacity building grants and technical assistance grants. For Meyer, capacity building grants “strengthen organizational ability and infrastructure,” while technical assistance grants “fund short-term interventions by an outside consultant who assists an organization with specific projects.”

4. Professional Development Grants

You can sometimes find—especially from grantmakers in your particular field—professional development grants that make it possible for you, your staff, or your constituents to take classes, attend workshops or conferences, or participate in cohorts. Professional development grants can deepen your skills and knowledge. They can also provide training in a related discipline. For example, one arts organization in the Portland, Oregon area provides professional development grants to artists who want to advance their business development skills.

5. Conference Grants

A variety of conference grants exist. Some help cover the costs of putting on your own conference, including paying speakers, renting a venue, and advertising the event. Other grantmakers provide scholarships for people who want to attend a conference or workshop relevant to the funder’s mission. There are also grants that help support smaller events—i.e., not full-blown conferences—such as this grant for projects that draw the community together for important conversations.

6. Seed Funding & Continuation Grants

These are two subcategories of the project and program grants mentioned in that previous post. Seed funding is used to support a new organization or to launch a pilot project. Continuation grants, or continuing support grants, are grants you receive after your first grant winds down. Don’t assume a continuation grant will be available, however. Most grantmakers want to see in the original application how you plan to sustain the project or program after their support has ended.

7. Scholarships, Fellowships & Research Grants

Scholarships are awards given to support a person’s education, based at least in part on merit and achievement. They are usually given directly to individual, though I did once write a successful grant securing more than $100,000 for a college’s scholarship fund. Fellowships support individuals doing research, pursuing further education, or producing a book, report, piece of art, or other product. Research grants are similar to research fellowships though, in my limited experience, they are to given the institution rather than to the individual directly.

8. Sponsorships

A sponsorship is defined as “a form of advertising in which companies pay to be associated with certain events.” In the nonprofit realm, sponsorships are sometimes referred to as cause marketing because they benefit the sponsor as well the recipient. As an example, a major health care provider in my region, Providence Health & Services, says it considers sponsorships for “community and fundraising events, conferences, health fairs and forums.”

9. Program-related Investment

A program-related investment (PRI) isn’t technically a grant but I’m including it here because it’s another way some foundations support nonprofits. A PRI is a no-interest or low-interest loan given by a grantmaker to a project consistent with the grantmaker’s own mission. Program-related investments can be especially useful as part of a large capital project.

Fifteen different kinds of grants. That’s a lot. Even more, if you consider that I lumped a few together. (Let me know if you run across additional types that I have forgotten.)

I hope you’re starting to see the variety of support that may be available to you. There are abundant resources for your abundant work.