Maybe you have heard of micro grants and are wondering what they are. In this post, we will walk through what a micro grant is, why micro grants might be a good fit for your nonprofit, and provide some micro grant examples.
Whether you are new to micro grants, or are looking for some deeper insights, this article will provide some good tips and help you up your micro grant game.
What is a Micro Grant?
You may have heard of micro grants being given to impoverished communities or individuals in need. You may have even donated funds toward a micro grant for someone or a certain project. Micro grant funds are often intended for income generating projects or for infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, etc.
Typically, micro grants are small grants for a one time project which can be given to individuals or groups trying to impact their local community. Nonprofits are also eligible for micro grants if they have smaller projects which align with funder priorities.
The types of micro grants that are provided to nonprofits are often used for equipment purchases or staff training. Your nonprofit may be able to apply if you do not qualify for other more traditional funding sources such as loans.
There are also nonprofits that actually provide micro grants to individuals or other organizations. Nonprofits may also serve as partners in the micro grant process which may look like recommending or sponsoring an individual or community group for a micro grant and then overseeing the project.
Organizations that provide micro grants can include typical funders such as corporations or government entities but may also include other nonprofits. Micro grants generally award around $1000, but can offer as much as $5000 depending on the grantmaker.
Why Should You Apply for Micro Grants?
Now that we’ve helped to answer the question of what a micro grant is, we are going to help you learn some reasons why to apply for a micro grant.
Your nonprofit should consider applying for a micro grant if you have a small project that doesn't require a lot of funding. Micro grants can also be useful because larger nonprofits are less likely to apply for these smaller funding opportunities.
Micro grants often have a more simplistic application process because they are designed for individuals who may not have grant writing experience or for smaller organizations. Grantmakers providing these types of funds want to make the process somewhat easier so that they can help those who truly need the assistance.
The more simplistic process means that micro grants can also be beneficial if you have a small nonprofit with a small staff. For organizations that do not have a dedicated grant writer these more simplistic applications can be a good option.
Because micro grants provide a smaller amount of funding, they are focused on making a true impact. Your project may be a good fit for a micro grant if it will directly benefit the community.
Since micro grantmakers are often interested in helping those suffering from poverty, your nonprofit may also be interested in a micro grant if it helps those suffering from extreme hardship in some way.
Although these could seem like good reasons to apply for a microgrant, there are also a few things you should consider before applying.
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Important Things to Consider Before Applying to Micro Grant Opportunities
When considering a micro grant, it is important to make sure your needs match the funding opportunity. Similar to any other grant application, you need to check that you meet eligibility requirements such as the size of your nonprofit, the right funding amount, the correct type of project, etc.
Your nonprofit may have multiple reasons for applying for a micro grant; as with other grant applications, you want to identify your needs before considering a micro grant. Properly understanding your needs will help you determine when it’s right to apply for a micro grant.
You also need to consider if a micro grant is the best fit for your nonprofit and your specific project. Make sure that you have a project identified that fits within the strategic plan for your nonprofit and understand the funding needs of that project. When completing any grant application, you want to make sure that your efforts are well spent.
You will know if a micro grant is the right fit based on the amount of funds needed for your project and whether your project timeline aligns with the timing of the funds. When considering the amount of funds, you also need to evaluate whether or not you would need to apply for multiple grants to receive all of the funding that you need.
Additionally, you need to make sure you fully understand and are prepared to meet all reporting requirements. Even though micro grants are for smaller amounts of money, grantmakers will want you to demonstrate a real impact.
Do not simply apply for a micro grant because the application may seem easier or less time intensive. You don’t want to just apply for top micro grants because they are available. Evaluate your project and then evaluate the funding opportunity. If there is a good fit, then a micro grant might be right for you.
Common Micro Grant Application Mistakes
While some micro grant applications are relatively simple, it is still important to write a quality application and avoid typical mistakes. Since we’ve talked about why and a bit about when to apply for a micro grant, we are now going to highlight a few common pitfalls.
As with any type of grant writing, there are some common mistakes that we would like to help you avoid.
1. Having too large of a need
The amount provided by a micro grant typically ranges from $1000-$5000. You need to make sure that this amount of funds is appropriate for your project.
Your budget needs to clearly explain the funding need and show how funds will be used. The grantmaker wants to know that their support will be enough to truly support the project.
If you do have a need larger than the amount of the micro grant, then you would want to explain to the funder where you will obtain other funds. You may consider things like partnerships as all grantmakers appreciate projects that bring multiple groups together.
2. Not having an appropriate project
Micro grants typically focus on helping impoverished individuals or communities. They can also be provided to groups or nonprofits that may not be eligible for loans or other funding opportunities.
Because of the small amount of money these types of grants provide, they are often designed to fund equipment purchases or staff development needs.
You want to make sure that your project aligns with the priorities of the funder, similar to any other grant that you would apply for.
3. Being too large of a nonprofit
Because microgrants only provide a small amount of funding, the grantmaker wants to see that this amount will be enough to make a difference.
Those who offer micro grant opportunities don’t want their funds to simply be a “drop in the bucket” for a large nonprofit when they can support those that truly need the assistance.
You may still be eligible for a micro grant as a larger nonprofit if you can demonstrate the importance of the amount of funding you are requesting for a specific project.
4. Completing the application too quickly
Although a micro grant does not offer a relatively large amount of funding, it is still important to allocate enough time to complete a quality application.
As with any other grant, writing the application takes time. The reviewers will be able to tell if you have rushed through the application too quickly. Review the request for proposal and make sure that you put in the correct amount of effort to complete a solid application.
Finally, you need to avoid writing errors in your micro grant applications. Grammatical, spelling, and other writing mistakes are one of the quickest ways to lose the attention of the grantmaker review team.
Make sure that you edit your application and also have someone else edit it for you as it’s easy to miss things when reading your own work. You do not want to have your micro grant application rejected due to errors that could have been avoided.
4 Examples of Micro Grant Opportunities
Micro grants have become increasingly common in recent years and there are many opportunities out there. We have provided a few examples in this section to help you better understand what they look like and what is available.
The Whitefish Community Foundation offers a micro grant for nonprofits focused on human and social services and community services.
The funding is available for nonprofits in the Flathead Valley in Montana and provides up to $1000 for projects helping to meet a social need. We chose this example because it gives you a good idea of a typical micro grant opportunity.
Many micro grants will be focused on specific geographic areas because the funder wants to have an impact in that locale.
The micro grant provided through Entergy offers up to $1000 to nonprofits in certain counties in Arkansas. They support environmental, arts and culture, education, economic services, and more.
Their micro grants are accepted on a rolling basis, but they recommend applying at least three months before you need the funds. Similar to the opportunity above, the Entergy micro grant is limited to a relatively specific geographic area.
The Awesome Foundation offers micro grants for all kinds of community impact initiatives. Both individuals and nonprofits are eligible for these micro grants.
There are multiple locations of the Awesome Foundation around the world, so you can apply to a specific regional group that supports work in your locale. They are most interested in innovative projects that have a true community impact.
They use their various locations to help spread their impact instead of focusing on one specific locale.
If your nonprofit focuses on climate friendly projects, then you may be interested in a micro grant from Climate Grants. As the name suggests, they focus on projects that have a positive impact on climate related issues.
You can review recent winners on their website and learn more about eligibility requirements. The Climate Grants are a good example of a micro grant that is focused on a relatively specific issue.
Wrapping Up: What is a Micro-Grant for Nonprofits?
Now that we have walked you through what a micro grant is, hopefully you feel more confident about these types of funding opportunities.
When comparing micro grants to other types of grants, you need to make sure you understand the needs of your nonprofit as well as the requirements of the grantmaker. Avoid simply applying for the top micro grants because they are available.
You can check out the examples that we provided to learn more about micro grants and to better understand how these types of funding opportunities can help your nonprofit make a difference in your community.
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