State and Local Government Grants: How to Find Them Fast

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November 17, 2022

Last Updated:

December 20, 2023

Finding grants for your nonprofit can be a tedious process, especially when sifting through the vast amount of state and local government grants. You know the money is out there, but do you know how to find grants from state and local governments?

Luckily, we are going to outline how to find grants in your state or local area quickly and efficiently. In this article, we’ll discuss the following:

  • What state and local grants are and why they are important to nonprofits.
  • Some examples of state and local grants.
  • How to use Instrumentl to find them fast.

Let’s dive in!

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What are State and Local Government Grants?

State and local government grants are just like they sound - state grants are grants awarded by state government agencies, and local grants are awarded by local county, city, or municipal government agencies. 

They can be attractive to nonprofits because you are only competing with other nonprofits located within your local community or state. 

Here’s what you should know about state and local government grants:

  • Their purpose: The purpose of these grants is usually driven by a need in the state or local community, from health and human services to education, or even the arts.
  • Their location: State and local government grants are distributed to specific regions, making them less competitive than federal grants that may have a national or even global scale.
  • Their impact: Because these grants are local, they usually address the needs of a specific population or area of interest.

State and local government grants are different from federal grants because they are usually only eligible for nonprofits in those geographic areas. 

In addition, they may have additional eligibility requirements that you won’t find with private grants because they are awarded by government agencies.

Why are State and Local Government Grants Important for Nonprofits?

State and local government grants are important for nonprofits because they specifically support local initiatives and community projects.

For example, many Pennsylvania state grants focus on mental health services, animal rescue, and school and youth programs. 

If your nonprofit’s mission aligns with the grants being offered, you may find they will have a strong impact on your nonprofit’s operations and outreach.

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Examples of State and Local Government Grants

There are numerous state and local government grants available throughout the country. 

For example, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has awarded grants to nonprofit organizations that are in line with the agency’s mission:

  • Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant for clean energy vehicles and fueling infrastructure
  • AML/AMD Grant Program Coastal Zone Grant for protecting water quality and shorelines
  • Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority Restat Grants

These are just a few examples of state grants awarded specifically to nonprofits, as there are numerous state and local government grants available.

How to Find State and Local Government Grants

Many state and local government agencies announce their grant opportunities on their websites, but searching through all of them is a time-consuming and extensive process. Luckily, you can use Instrumentl to quickly learn how to find grants from state and local governments.

Instrumentl focuses on matching your nonprofit with grant opportunities that best fit your organization. This streamlined search process ensures you aren’t searching through state and local government websites only to be overwhelmed with a multitude of irrelevant grants.

To start finding state and local government grants, here’s how you do it.

  • Create a free Instrumentl account and get access to Instrumentl’s grant management platform for 14 days. 
  • With over 400,000 funders on Instrumentl, we ensure that your nonprofit is matched with the most relevant state and local government opportunities.
  • Instrumentl simplifies the process of finding state and local government grants because we have the most comprehensive database of active funding opportunities in the U.S.
  • Use Instrumentl’s grant management platform for FREE for 14 days!

This section will guide you through a step-by-step process of finding grants using Instrumentl.

Step 1: Set Up Your Nonprofit Within Instrumentl

After you’ve signed into Instrumentl, you’ll start creating a new project. You’ll have three steps to complete:

1.  Share details about your organization and its location.

2.  Create a project name.

3.  Set up your grant search.

You will start by entering your organization’s information.

Fill In Details On Your Organization

In the “1. Organization” section, you’ll fill in details on your nonprofit, such as your location and fiscal year. 

You will also want to choose your state and what specific counties that your nonprofit serves. That way, Instrumentl can filter out state and local government grants that are not relevant to the area you serve.

Click “Save and Continue” to complete this first section.

Provide An Overview Of Your Project

In the next section, “2. Overview,” you’ll create a project. Think of a project in Instrumentl as similar to a “saved search.” You can title your project anything you would like that is related to your search for local and state grant opportunities.

Next, you will select “Matches & Tracking'' because it will provide you with both a tracker and funding opportunity matches. You will want to select this type of project if you are seeking out new funding opportunities. 

Choosing “Tracking” is only best if you already have grants and you just want to track them in Instrumentl.

Once done, click “Save and Continue.

Specify The Types of Grants You’re Looking For

In the last section, “3. Matches Setup,” you will specify the following:

  • The type of nonprofit you are (most commonly, just “Nonprofit” rather than “College/University” or “Zoo”).
  • If you’re a faith-based nonprofit and only want to see grants specifically for that purpose.
  • The geographical areas you serve.
  • Your fields of work.
  • The grant size you’re looking for.
  • What you intend to use the funding for (projects, programs, operating expenses, etc.).

We chose “Nonprofit” for our applicant type, and since we want state and local government grants - not grants specifically for faith-based organizations - we chose “No” for that section.

Then you will want to select your location based on the state and counties you serve. This is so you can focus on state and local government funding options in your geographic area.

In our example, we chose Pennsylvania, specifically the counties surrounding the state capital of Harrisburg. Simply search your state and then select the counties that are relevant to your nonprofit.

Now you will select the field of work you operate in to ensure you get matches with grants from state and local government funders who support nonprofits that do the work you do.

It’s best practice to select 2-3 fields of work so you have a wide enough scope of relevant grants.

When clicking “+Select fields of work,” search the cause you support and select 2-5 keywords from the drop-down that fit your mission. In our example, we searched food and homeless fields.

In our example, we selected four fields of work related to food and one related to the homeless.

Next, set a minimum or maximum type of grant you would like to be matched with. This will filter out grants that are either too small, making them not worth pursuing, or too large, making them too competitive.

In our example, we set a minimum of $1,000 and no maximum. Our medium- to large-nonprofit will take all the funding we can get!

Finally, you will need to choose what you will be using these funds for if awarded. We chose “General Operating Expense” because these grants are more flexible and unrestricted. This means Instrumentl will filter out restrictive grants that only support specific projects or programs.

Specify That you want to see State and Local Government Grants

You can configure Instrumentl to target state and local government grants next. If you are curious about all available grants, you can click them all and then narrow your search to state and local government grants once you’re in Instrumentl. 

Now you can click “Save and Exit.” 

Invite Your Team Members

Don’t worry about having to research state and local government grants all on your own, as Instrumentl allows you to invite up to 9 team members to collaborate on your grant research.

Once you have finished following these steps, we will display all of the top grant matches for you to review.

Step 2: Narrow Your Grant Search To Only State and Local Government Grants

When you first start reviewing your matches, you’ll notice that Instrumentl resembles an email inbox. 

If you are curious about all of the grants in your field, don’t worry. You can filter by “State and Local Government” grants under the “Filter” dropdown tab or select all categories.

As a result, you’ll only see state and local government grants.

Briefly Review Your Grant Matches

You can briefly review your grant matches and then choose the ones you want to analyze in more detail. The matches are on the left, and when you click on one, the details will show on the right.

You will also see that on the left, Instrumentl shows the “Funding Opportunity Matches,” which are individual active grants, and “Funder Matches,” which are funders who match your search criteria.

Briefly Review Your Funder Matches

Once you have a list of the most suitable state and local government grant opportunities for your nonprofit, you can review each one in detail.

Clicking on the profile of each opportunity will allow you to examine the “FUNDER OPPORTUNITY” and “FUNDER” tabs.

These sections contain essential information that will help you evaluate whether a grant aligns with your nonprofit’s goals and objectives.

For example, the “FUNDER OPPORTUNITY” tab provides key information about the grant, including focus area, support type, and priority funding areas.

Filter Your Results

You can use Instrumentl’s filters to narrow down search results by geographic location, funding amount, and more.

For example, since we’re interested in state and local government grants, we filtered our search to the surrounding counties of where our nonprofit is located.

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Step 3: Prioritize Your Grant Opportunities

Now that you have filtered your results only to see state and local government grants, you can dig deeper into each potential grant for your nonprofit. By clicking on each profile, you can quickly review the relevant information.

Review the Grant Guidelines

The “FUNDER OPPORTUNITY” tab provides a snapshot of the state or local government opportunity and the grant guidelines. Here you will see relevant information such as the grant’s focus area, type of support, and priority funding areas.

You can also get a detailed look at the funder’s eligibility and application specifics.

State and local government agencies are not required to file 990 reports, so we do not have these options available in our Instrumentl search.

Step 4: Save The Grants That You Want To Pursue Further

Once you’ve gone through the state and local government grant matches thoroughly, you can save the ones that catch your attention. 

By doing so, you can easily revisit the grants at a later time in your Grant Tracker, where you can keep track of which you’ve decided to pursue with a letter of intent, or a full proposal.

Leave Notes On Your Saved Grants

Since you are working with a team on your search, you can leave important notes that record key insights and considerations for each grant.

Assign A Status To Stay Updated On It

Instrumentl also allows you to organize your saved grants by marking them as “Researching” in the beginning and then the application status if you decide to apply for the grant. This allows your team to manage your grant search progress effectively.

Step 5: Store Saved Grants In Your Tracker For Future Reference

The Instrumentl Grant Tracker serves as a reliable and efficient tool for managing your pool of saved state and local government grants. 

The Grant Tracker functions as a personal database for your prospective state and local government grants, keeping all of your selected opportunities in one place for easy access and organization.

Update Your Grant Details

The Tracker also allows you to update and monitor the status of your grant applications. Each grant that is saved in your Track can have its status updated as you progress through the application process.

To update a grant’s status, simply click on the grant within your Tracker.

You’ll find the “Status” dropdown where you can select the appropriate status for your grant. You can choose from various status options, including “Researching,” “Planned,” and “Submitted.”

This feature allows you to have real-time updates on your tasks and helps you efficiently manage your application processes. 

Set Fundraising Goals

You can also use the Tracker to align your grants with your financial targets. In our example, we set a fundraising goal of $350,000 over the next three years.

Never Miss A Deadline

Your team can also use Instrumentl’s deadline tracking features so that your saved grants are organized by deadline. That way, you can focus on what deadline is coming up first and then work on the later applications as they arise.

Assign Tasks To Your Team

As different tasks arise, the Tracker has an efficient task distribution and tracking section in which you can assign specific tasks to each member of your team. This will keep everyone organized and on track.

Report On Your Progress

Finally, you can use Instrumentl to generate reports for internal and external stakeholders. Reports can organize your award opportunities, the awards that you have won, any tasks, and even contact information of funders.

FAQ on State and Local Government Government Grants

State and local government grants can represent a significant avenue of financing for your nonprofit. Yet, navigating through the landscape of state and local grants can be daunting.

Below we answer some frequently asked questions about state and local government grants.

Can nonprofits from other states apply for local government grants?

Generally, local government grants are intended for organizations operating within the specific state or locality. If you find a grant from another state in Instrumentl, you can check the eligibility criteria to confirm.

What is the typical application process for state and local government grants?

The application process for state and local government grants are similar to other grants. They will usually specify if there is an application deadline or if it is rolling (an ongoing grant). There also may be specific eligibility requirements depending on which government agency is awarding the grant.

Are state and local government grants typically recurring or one-time funding?

You may find a state and local government grant that is recurring, but most of the time, they are one-time funding opportunities because they are for a specific state or local project or initiative. 

Are there specific reporting requirements for state and local government grants?

Reporting requirements are dependent on the state or local government agency awarding the grant.

Can small nonprofits apply for state and local government grants?

Yes! If your small nonprofit is located in the funder’s geographic area and you have the manpower to successfully complete the grant, you can apply for it.

What are the common mistakes to avoid when applying to state and local government grants?

Be sure to note the application deadline immediately, as many grant proposals are rejected simply due to missing a deadline. Also, be sure to research the state or local government agency to ensure your mission is in line with theirs.

Stephanie Paul Morrow

Stephanie Paul Morrow

Stephanie Morrows holds a Ph.D. in Media and Communications and is a professor at PennState Harrisburg.

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