State and Local Grants: How to Find Them Fast in 2023
So you’re looking to find grant funding for your nonprofit—but maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed and wondering where to start.
Don’t worry! We are going to outline how you can find state and local grants, how to make sure that they align with your nonprofit’s mission and funding needs, and how to streamline the application process.
Finding, keeping track of, and applying to state and local grants can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Check out these easy tips to get your nonprofit’s funding on track by finding the best state and local grants.
What Are State and Local Grants?
First off, what even ARE state and local grants?
State grants are grants offered by state governments to nonprofits in their state, or even a specific area of the state.
Local grants are offered by county, city, or municipal governments to nonprofits in their area. Sometimes these are grants from specific departments or government agencies, such as the local Department of Health and Human Services or the Department of Transportation.
These kinds of grants are a great place to focus your grant application energy on because your nonprofit won’t be competing against nonprofits from all over the country, or even all over the world! Plus state and local grants often make long-term commitments to nonprofits or offer multi-year grants.
State and local grants might address the needs of a specific population, fund certain kinds of programs for the community, or focus on an area of particular interest i.e. arts and culture or workforce readiness.
You might be wondering: what makes a state or local grant different from a foundation grant? Other than the obvious—the grant is given by a local government entity instead of a private or public foundation—the big difference is that state and local grant priorities change depending on the needs of the communities being served, while most foundations’ priorities stay the same or similar over several years.
Because of this, you should keep up to date on state and local grants because their priorities might not align with your nonprofit’s work one grant cycle, but will the next!
Institutional fundraising platform like Instrumentl’s have tracking and intelligent matching featuresthat can help you stay on top of changing state and local grant priorities so you never miss out on an opportunity to get funded.
State and local grants are important for nonprofits because:
1. They focus on the needs of a specific area—and lots of nonprofits do too. If your nonprofit is supporting, say, childhood literacy in your state, chances are your state government cares about that and wants to fund you!
2. They can provide long-term and multi-year support. State and local grants are more likely than foundations to give multi-year grants and return to trusted nonprofits year after year. This can go a long way to relieving financial pressure as your nonprofit does its work!
3. They diversify your funding stream. Maybe your organization has been relying mostly on individual contributions. That’s great, but combining that with state and local grants will make your nonprofit’s financial future more secure.
4.They provide credibility! Getting state and local grants looks really good for your nonprofit. Receiving government funding, even from local governments such as your county, assures your donors and other funders that your organization is reputable and reliable.
Click to find the best grants for your nonprofit from 12,000+ active opportunities.
How Do I Prepare for Applying to State and Local Grants?
Before you start looking for the best state and local grants for your nonprofit, make sure your organization has got the nonprofit basics covered and you know what you’re looking for.
One of the biggest mistakes nonprofits make when starting out is spending lots of time on grants they’re not really ready for, or applying for grants they’re unlikely to receive. State and local grants often have stringent requirements and multi-step application processes, followed by detailed reporting requirements after you receive a grant award. The very best thing you can do for your nonprofit is prepare, prepare, prepare.
Make sure you’ve thought about the following BEFORE you start applying for state and local grants:
1. Mission. Your nonprofit’s mission is its handshake in the world of granting. You want it to be clear, firm, and brief.
2. Financials. Make sure your financials are in order before applying to state or local grants. Government grants of all kinds want to fund stable organizations and will look over your financial information carefully.
3. Measurable outcomes. Finding state and local grants is one thing, but if your organization doesn’t have tools in place for measuring impact and reporting on it, state and local governments will pass you by in a heartbeat. Prioritize data and evidence for your model!
How to Find State and Local Grants in 11 Steps
Now that you’ve determined your nonprofit is prepared to take on a state or local grant, you’re ready to start looking. What does this actually mean for you? Take a look at the steps below to get started:
1. Do a Google search.
To find state and local grants, start by trying to Google some keywords such as “[your state’s name] state grants” or “local grants in [insert your city or county].” Make sure to thoroughly check any post about a grant opportunity—Google will give you a lot of search results, and they won’t all be relevant to your organization.
2. Take a look at your local government’s website.
Your state, county, municipality, or city will often list grant opportunities on their websites. Check back often, since most local grant cycles are only open for a limited time!
3. Look up local government departments.
Look up local government departments related to your nonprofit’s mission to see if they offer grants. For instance, if you run an environmental nonprofit you might want to check out your state’s Department of Environmental Protection website for grant opportunities.
4. Reach out to elected officials’ offices.
Reach out to your city commissioner, or your county council directly and ask about grant opportunities. You may have to search local government websites for email addresses and phone numbers.
5. Narrow down your list.
Once you’ve identified some different funding opportunities, it’s time to narrow it down to the opportunities you’ll actually apply for.
To do this, start by triple checking your eligibility. State and local grants usually have stringent requirements, and just being a nonprofit might not be the only requirement to apply.
6. Review your mission fit.
State and local grants are often looking to meet really specific needs—you want to make sure you’re the right nonprofit for the job. Review how your mission fits into the goals of the grant opportunity. Don’t waste your time applying for grants that don’t fit with the goals of your organization and/or project.
7. Create a spreadsheet (or a few).
You’ll need to be able to track requirements, deadlines, submissions, and reporting. Create spreadsheets so that you don’t miss deadlines or forget requirements.
State and local grants, like all government grants, usually have multiple steps. If you don’t keep careful track of everything you need for your applications and when it all needs to be submitted, you can lose out on big chances to get your organization funded!
8. Create a checklist.
Create a checklist of documents you’ll need, and gather them in one place. This might include things like your 501(c)3 status, copies of recent 990s and financial statements, other tax forms, or forms specific to the grant.
Make sure you have everything your state or local grant funder requires BEFORE you start your application. This will make the submission process easier and less stressful.
9. Time to write!
Now is your nonprofit’s time to shine. Review all materials provided about the opportunity and take note of the terms and language the funder uses. When appropriate, use the same language as the funder in your proposal. Consider both technical terms (i.e. clients vs. service participants) and adjectives you can reflect back to show how well-aligned you are with the grant’s goals.
Want to get an idea of what grant funders, including government funders, might be wondering about your nonprofit? Check out these common questions funders want answered.
10. Go over the requirements and deadlines one more time.
Are your documents in the right format? Are your character counts correct? Do you have a plan for reporting, especially if there are multiple reports?
Make sure to go over the requirements one more time and ensure that you stay on top of different deadlines. Better safe than sorry!
11. Time to apply.
Set aside plenty of time for the actual application in case you need to troubleshoot any technical or other issues. With these tips, you can hit submit with confidence.
How Instrumentl Can Help You Find State and Local Grants in 3 Easy Steps
Do all these steps feel like a LOT? You’re busy with all the amazing work your nonprofit is doing, and probably with other grant deadlines.
If you want to find state and local grants fast, you’re not alone.
Grant writers can get bogged down in the relentless process of grant research, spreadsheet creation, tedious tracking, and endless paperwork. Luckily, using a platform like Instrumentl can help make finding state and local grants fast, simple, and stress-free.
How? Take a closer look!
1. Create an Instrumentl Account
Instrumentl is an intuitive fundraising tool that combines grant prospecting, tracking, and management in one place. Instrumentl offers a 14-day free trial so that users can try out the platform risk-free.
Signing up will only take a few minutes! Probably the easiest thing you’ll do all day as a grant writer.
2. Find Good Fit Funders
Spend your time raising funds, not doing Google searches!
Instrumentl’s Smart Matching feature helps you find the best state and local grants that fit your needs and that align with your nonprofit’s specific mission—no more wasting time combing through funding opportunities that aren’t a good fit.
You can create a new project, search specifically for government funders, and save that search so that you’ll automatically get updated when new state and local grant opportunities come up. Remember to use the handy dandy geographic location filter in your searches—location is key to eligibility for state and local funders.
With Instrumentl, you can spend less time looking for state and local funding opportunities and more time actually applying to and securing grants. Using Instrumentl means you can focus on what really matters—getting the funding that your nonprofit needs to make the world a better place!
3. Manage Your Entire Grants Pipeline
Throw out your spreadsheets! Instrumentl will track upcoming deadlines for you and alert you when they’re near. You can also manage your grant pipeline across every stage with your whole team. No more fussing with sharing complicated spreadsheets or digging through your files for the information you need!
Let Instrumentl take some of the pressure off by tracking your deadlines, providing comprehensive profiles of funders, and creating intuitive tools to collaborate with your team, big or small.
Instrumentl is especially helpful for state and local grants which often require multiple reports. Instrumentl’s tracking and management tools will ensure that no reporting requirements slip through the cracks.
Of course, you don’t have to use Instrumentl to successfully find and apply for state and local grants. But we can confidently say that Instrumentl is many grant writers’ secret weapon. Instrumentl can help you stay on top of the thousands of grant opportunities out there, work on multiple applications simultaneously, and maintain robust development strategies for nonprofits of all kinds.
5 Common State and Local Grants Questions
1. What is the best way to find state and local grants?
Instrumentl is the top grant prospecting and fundraising platform. There are lots of ways to look for grants, from Google searches to other paid grants databases. Whether you’re a nonprofit administrator or a freelance grant writer, Instrumentl makes the grant research process quick and seamless. Instrumentl uses intelligent smart-matching features to match your organization with the best possible opportunities.
2. What is a grants database?
A grants database is a site containing curated information on grant funders and funding opportunities. Most grants databases include both state and local government grants and grants from foundations.
3. My nonprofit only meets some of a state/local grant’s requirements. Should we still apply?
Our advice? Save your energy for an opportunity that is better aligned with your nonprofit. Grant writing takes a lot of work and often includes a lot of rejection. Prioritize finding grants with strong mission fit and requirements you can meet.
4. Do state and local grants have to be paid back?
No! This is what makes a grant different from a loan. While state and local grants almost always have a reporting process where you’ll report back on how your organization used the grant and what impact it had, you don’t have to repay any grant money you receive.
5. What’s the difference between an RFP and an RFA?
State and local grants might announce either a Request for Proposals (RFP) or a Request for Applications (RFA). An RFP means that they’re looking for bids for a contract to perform specific services and deliver specific outcomes, whereas an RFA usually allows for more flexibility for the particular project or program and its outcomes.
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Wrapping Up: How to Find State and Local Grants Fast in 2023
Finding grant funding will always be part of a nonprofit’s fundraising strategy. But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming!
Remember to think about your nonprofit’s mission, goals, and outcomes before you start applying and use a reliable source, such as Instrumentl to search for state and local grants.
Using the steps in this post will help you connect with local governments that care about your nonprofit’s work, put together a fantastic proposal, grow your grant funding, and continue to create a brighter future.
And keep in mind, finding grants doesn’t have to be such hard work. Using a powerful tool like Instrumentl to find and track your state, local, and other grants can open up a world of opportunities and growth you never thought possible. Good luck!
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