How to Find Start up Capital & Grants to Start a Non-Profit

by Bailey Richert

Finding grants and seed capital to start a non-profit is similar to finding funding for a for-profit business. Unlike a private enterprise, however, a non-profit organization often has a charitable cause that opens more doors to funding. Researching grants in books, online and through government-sponsored programs are ways to find start up capital. The best strategy for raising money is to continue to search and apply for as many grants as possible until you reach your budget goals.

Use the mission of your company or any of its unique factors as assets when applying for grants. Many grant and investor programs exist solely to help a single cause. A cause-based non-profit has a better chance of winning financial support from a single-minded grant program than from a generic grant program that attracts thousands of applicants. ZeroDivide, for example, grants capital to organizations that help minorities gain better access to technology.

Scour Twitter posts to find out about new and upcoming grants. For-profit businesses use social media to get the word out about their programs and products, and non-profit grant programs are doing the same thing. Websites such as Twitter and Facebook have a significant amount of information about non-profit grant programs.

Search government databases for grants. The federal programs are often less publicized but are sometimes more generous than familiar foundations. The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA), the Federal Register and FedBizOpps are just a few of the grant-program databases.

Apply for grants from angel investors. Angel investors are companies or individuals who sponsor a new company or non-profit in exchange for a minimal return on their investment later. Gather funding from multiple angel investors to increase your initial capital.

Circulate a prepared loan and grant proposal for your non-profit. Though you may not have a particular investor or grant program in mind, having a grant proposal ready to go will allow you to submit an application at a moment's notice. Post the proposal on your organization's website to inform and attract potential investors.

Apply for a small business loan or grant with the U.S. Small Business Administration, which exists solely to help start-ups.

About the Author

Bailey Richert is a 2010 graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a dual bachelor's degree in environmental engineering and hydrogeology, as well as a master's degree in systems engineering. After several years in the environmental consulting industry, she is now attending MIT for graduate school. An accomplished traveler, she has visited 23 countries and published her first book about international travel in 2014.

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