While non-profit organizations get a portion of their annual income from donations and fund-raising events, most rely on grants for the major portion of their budget. Grants can come from a variety of sources, including private corporations and various government entities. Locating, applying for and receiving grants can require a lot of work, forcing many non-profits to employ a full time grant staff.

Federal Government

The United States federal government offers thousands of grant programs for non-profits, administered by agencies such as the Departments of Education, Justice, Agriculture, Health and Human Service and the Interior. These grants support non-profit programs such as higher education, community food banks, low-income housing and programs targeted at various ethnic groups. Programs, such as the National Endowment for the Arts, target arts programs specifically. Grants can range in value from a few hundred to thousands of dollars and are awarded on an ongoing basis.

Local and State Government

Grants for non-profit organizations can also come from a variety of state and local government sources. While state grants often focus on social programs such as food banks, housing and education, many local governments focus on areas such as arts or music. For example, the Pinellas County (Florida) Cultural Affairs Department offers grants that support many area non-profit museums, cultural education programs and other non-profit groups.


Private corporations and entities can be another source of grants for non-profit groups. In most cases, private corporations offer grants focused on a particular area or are closely related to the business sector of the corporation. While large companies such as Ford Motor Company, Microsoft Corporation, Hewlett-Packard and Verizon have a longstanding reputation for non-profit grants, smaller businesses also offer grants to non-profits. While the grant amounts may be smaller, there may be less competition or fewer qualifiers to receive a grant.


Wealthy individuals or families may choose to set up a foundation to offer grants for certain needs or interests. Non-profit organizations often benefit from private philanthropy by developing relationships with the individual or family through organizational involvement or interest. For example, family interest in a non-profit museum may lead to grants for particular exhibitions, ongoing donations or a major grant endowment in memory of a deceased family member.