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What are the 4 Types of Nonprofit Grant Funders and How Are They Different?

Updated: Jul 20, 2022

In the world of philanthropic fundraising, there are four types of grant funders: Federal Government, State and/or Local Government, Private Foundations, and Corporate Foundations. Let’s learn more about each one.

Federal Government Grants Federal grants are administered and awarded through the federal government. They are often very restricted, focusing the funds on a program to meet the needs of a very specific demographic of people.

Deadlines vary for federal funds and applications can take weeks (and sometimes even months) to complete. It’s important for you as the grant writer to make sure your nonprofit can be competitive for these funds before investing that level of time in an application. I typically suggest that our clients allow up to 6 months to complete a federal grant application.

State/Local Government Grants

These grants are administered and awarded by your state or local government. When submitting, your request can often be in competition with for-profit companies, individuals, or other government agencies (i.e. school districts) based on the subject/interest area of the grant. Typically these grants are very restricted, much like federal grants, and deadlines vary. Similar to federal grants, applications can be lengthy and time-consuming, so plan accordingly when you're building your grant calendar.

Private Foundations

Private foundations are usually started by a family in memory of someone or to support a cause near and dear to that family. Typically, private foundations only fund nonprofit organizations, and their funding priorities vary widely. Deadlines vary as well, but you’ll see a significant amount of organizations requiring applications in the March/April or September/October months. This timing allows foundations to review applications, make selections, and distribute grants ahead of the calendar or fiscal year-end. Some may not have deadlines at all and some have rolling deadlines.

Corporate Foundations

The charitable arm of a for-profit organization, corporate foundations typically fund causes related to their business. Deadlines vary for corporate foundations, but you’ll see similar dates as private foundations with June 30 or December 31 applications in line with their fiscal or calendar year ending. One difference with corporate foundations is their point of view. In some cases, corporate donations come out of a marketing budget. You may be expected to provide some “return” on their investment (think naming opportunities, a listing on your website, event recognition, etc.).


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