Henry David Thoreau once said, "Philanthropy is almost the only virtue which is sufficiently appreciated by mankind." Thoreau would be pleased to know that philanthropy is still alive and well 150 years after his death. In the United States, literally hundreds of foundations offer grants to nonprofit organizations. Nonprofits must conduct business for the benefit of the public without shareholders or a profit motive.They include groups such as churches, charities and political associations.
H.J. Heinz Company Foundation
The H.J. Heinz Company Foundation was established in 1951 with the goal to promote health and nutrition around the world. However, its Close to Home program works as a benefactor in the communities in which it operates and has made contributions to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, the Pittsburgh Public Theater and Operation Warm. It offers grants to organizations that are considered exempt under section 501(c)3 of the IRS Tax Code. The foundation does not provide grants to individuals or make multi-year pledges except for major capital or grant campaigns. Its core program areas include promoting better understanding of good nutrition, diversity through the advancement of minorities via education and community opportunities, and supporting programs with an emphasis on children and youth. Grant application guidelines are available on the foundation's website.
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Based in Seattle, Washington, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was created to help people lead healthy, productive lives. It is active in developing countries, where it focuses on improving health and helping people lift themselves out of hunger and poverty. In the United States, it works to ensure that all people have opportunities needed to succeed in school and life. The foundation has given literally billions of dollars in grants to an array of organizations such as the GAVI Alliance (which promotes childhood immunization), Save the Children, the United Negro College Fund and Gateway to College.
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Established in 1969, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation under the laws of the state of New York. It was created through the consolidation the Avalon Foundation and Old Dominion Foundation. By the end of 2009, it boasted annual grant-making appropriations of approximately $199.5 million. The foundation offers grants in five core areas: higher education and scholarship, scholarly communications and information technology, museums and art conservation, the performing arts, and conservation and the environment. Grant inquiries should be made in writing or via email. The foundation does not provide grants to individuals and unsolicited proposals are seldom funded.
Animal Welfare Trust
Animal Welfare Trust offers grant programs that focus on grassroots efforts that contribute to animal welfare. It is a 501(C)(3) private operating foundation established in 2001. AWT also strives to create its own projects, often in partnership with other organizations dedicated to the cause of animal welfare. AWT also lobbies for legislative reform in support of its cause. The trust looks for organizations with clearly defined goals and does not consider capital projects. As of February 2011, it offers about 10 to 15 grants annually that range from $2,500 to $20,000. Applicants can apply via email inquires to determine if the request falls within the scope of the funding program. The programs tend to focus on farm animal welfare, vegetarianism and humane education.