Participation in sports in an excellent way for children of all ages and adults to get exercise, improve their teamwork abilities, and hone their athletic skills. However, sports equipment and athletic programs can be costly for athletes and program administrators. There are several ways your organization can raise funds for your programs by applying for grants.

Finding Grants for Athletic Programs

Corporate and not-for-profit organizations across the United States offer grants for sports equipment and athletic programs. Many of these organizations list the grants they offer online. Other websites aggregate the grants available from different organizations so that they are easier to browse and apply for.

Look for grants available on fundraising websites, such as:

  • Fundsnet Services
  • USA Grant Watch
  • Society for Nonprofits
  • Instrumentl
  • Women's Sports Foundation
  • United Sports USA

Applying to Specific Sports Grants for Nonprofit Organizations

Grants for athletic programs vary based on the type of sport, the program level and the age of the participants. Follow the specific guidelines for each grant application so that you don't run into any issues. Grants your organization may be interested in investigating can be found at:

  • Amateur Athletic Foundation
  • American Hiking Society
  • Baseball Tomorrow Fund
  • Bikes Belong
  • Finish Line Youth Foundation
  • N7 Fund
  • NFL Youth Football Fund
  • Padi Foundation
  • Responsible Sports Community Grants
  • Tony Hawk Foundation
  • Women's Sports Foundation
  • Women Win
  • U.S. Soccer Foundation
  • United States Golf Association

Looking for Grants in Your Community

In addition to looking for grants at national foundations and philanthropic organizations, look at your local community resources as well. Many small and medium businesses support local sports teams, kids sports leagues and elite athletes through sponsorships and the purchase of sports equipment. If you or your athletes like a local business, such as a restaurant, approach the owner to support your team in exchange for having the business logo on your jerseys or programs.

If a local business isn't able to sponsor your team, there are other ways you may be able to get support. Ask a local business to provide snacks for the team on a regular basis or work with a local grant writer to develop your applications for larger foundations.

Following Grant-Writing Best Practices

Applying for grants for sports programs can be a complicated process because many organizations that offer grants have strict requirements. They often receive hundreds or thousands of applications, so it's important to have your application stand out. Research the funder to understand its specific goals for the funding. If an organization wants to fund girls sports at a high level, for example, you won't receive a grant for a boys football team.

Follow the grant application requirements exactly; you likely won't be able to use the same application to apply for multiple grants. Some organizations want you to fill out a form, while others require a long-form written document; some may want a combination of the two. Grants can be for specific items, such as purchasing sports equipment, or they can be for any expenses the organization may have. Specify what your organization plans to do with the funding if you receive the grant.

Grant writing needs to be persuasive, so state clearly why your program deserves the funding. Talk about the difference the funding will make to your organization and your athletes. For example, does your sports program keep youth off the streets and out of trouble? Does your team help boost the confidence of your players? These are elements that help to convey the importance and value of your sports program.