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ASU Lodestar Center Blog

Funding your nonprofit: Money’s out there if you know where to look

I recently moved from the Midwest to attend graduate school for English rhetoric and composition at Arizona State University. I was fortunate enough to be hired at the ASU Lodestar Center to be the specialist in charge of AzGates. AzGates is a unique section of the Center which some of you readers may be unfamiliar with. Essentially, it’s a grant-seeking tool for Arizona nonprofits both big and small.

You might wonder why such a tool is needed. If you work for a nonprofit but your position isn’t to seek grants, or if you simply help out your community in other ways, you may think it’s easy to find grants. When I first started, I thought I’d find them with the twitch of my nose or snap of my fingers and be able to easily pass them along to you. I quickly figured out that, despite the growing number of nonprofits not only in U.S and Arizona, there are very, very few resources that collect nonprofit grant information.

What I’ve discovered through the course of learning the administrative side of AzGates as an employee, and also as an individual interested in helping those who help others, is that there’s a serious gap. Now, I’m not saying there aren’t grants, because there are! There are so many opportunities for nonprofits to receive funding. The gap is the helping hand — like when your friend tells you about a sale you weren’t aware of or when a restaurant lets kids eat free at a certain time.

Here’s a few of the insights I’ve gained through my work with AzGates. Many funding opportunities are based around several themes. For example, AzGates is divided into several categories—from agricultural grants to economic. The categories that offer the most funding are “health” and “social & economic.” I’ve also seen a significant amount of interest in environmental projects, even including education-based nonprofits that build gardens.

Additionally, I typically don’t post grants that have a deadline less than a month away. Although a month seems like a pretty substantial amount of time, we have lives! However, I would estimate that about half of the grant opportunities I find give you that amount of time.

Remember in high school when that one teacher said that if you study a little each day, weeks before the test, you would remember more? I suggest being similarly prepared with a model grant submission. Like resumes and cover letters, grant submissions must be tailored the organization you are submitting it to. With health and science & technology grants, for example, your grant will certainly need to be more specific. Some foundations and governmental agencies request a very simple one or two page submission, while others are more in-depth. Regardless, having a detailed submission (the Center can provide information about the ins and outs of grantwriting) that you can pull language and information from will be extremely helpful in order to make such a tight deadline.

Grants for nonprofits are like scholarships for students; money is available! It never hurts to sign up for the AzGates funding alerts (They’re free! Click here.) and send out submissions for funding opportunities. In addition to donations, it could have a real effect on your nonprofit’s goals and will ultimately help out our local communities.

Sarah Ashlock is a M.A. rhetoric and composition student and participating in the Scholarly Publishing certificate program. Academically, she is interested in editing and nineteenth-century women's rhetoric. Personally, she loves traveling and going to concerts.


ASU Lodestar Center Blog