Our Guide to Matching Grants: What They Are and How To Find Them
Taking advantage of matching grants and other types of grants can help nonprofits boost their efficacy. While matching grants for nonprofits do require a bit more work than regular grants, they can help uncover new funding sources.
If you are looking for new ways to diversify funding for your nonprofit, you may want to consider matching grants. In the rest of this article, we define these types of grants and explain finding and applying for them.
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What Is a Matching Grant?
With a matching grant, you have to provide funding just like the grantor does. When you apply for one of these grants, your nonprofit agrees to contribute a specific amount to fund a specific community project or program. If you win the grant, the grantor then matches the funds that your nonprofit puts in, usually in a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio.
Matching grants do not make good nonprofit startup grants. Most startup nonprofits do not have the funding to match this type of grant. Instead, consider applying for a matching grant once your nonprofit is well-established.
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How Does a Matching Grant Work?
There are many types of matching grants. The most common types are cash and in-kind, but you might also see donations, volunteers, and other grants allowed as well:
Cash: Most nonprofit organizations save money to use for applying for matching grants. Cash is by far the easiest match because you do not have to worry about quantifying and explaining resources.
In-kind: For in-kind grants, the organization quantifies its goods or services. For example, you can determine how much your office, staff, equipment, and more are worth in dollar amount. The grantor then matches that amount.
Donations: Often referred to as cash-on-hand resources, donations are similar to cash. These funds can come from private donors or fundraising campaigns. If you are about to apply for a matching grant but need more funding to match with, ask your loyal donors for donations. Donors are more likely to contribute if they know that their donations are going to get doubled, as this allows them to make a bigger impact to your cause.
Volunteers: Similar to quantifying your staff for in-kind matching grants, you can quantify your volunteers. You will need to provide details on how many volunteers you have and how many hours they work.
Other grants: Yes, many grant-providing organizations allow you to use other awarded grants for matching purposes. This is often referred to as braided funding, as the two grants are entwined in purpose.
You must first decide which type of matching grant to apply for. The type you choose should depend on the types of financial assets you have. For example, if you have a lot of cash reserves, then a cash matching grant might work best for your organization. Once you determine the type of matching grant your organization should target, you can start counting your funds or quantifying your resources.
Pro Tip: In addition to the many types of nonprofit matching grants, you can also consider nonprofit advertising grants. For example, with Google Ad Grants, qualifying nonprofits get up to $10,000 per month to spend on advertising themselves on Google.
What Are the Benefits of a Matching Grant?
Matching grants offer several benefits beyond the money itself. The process of applying for matching grants can help organizations determine what resources they have at their disposal. It is also much easier to know when, where, and how to spend grant money when your nonprofit outlines this before applying for the grant.
Matching grants can also help grantors increase their effectiveness. Grantors who require matching grants can spread their wealth across several opportunities, rather than just one or two.
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How Do I Get a Matching Grant for My Nonprofit?
As we mentioned above, a nonprofit’s first step should be determining what type of matching grant to pursue. Then, it is time to find these grants and apply for them.
Where To Find Matching Grants
You can find matching grants where you typically find regular grants. This includes government agencies, foundations, and corporations.
Grants.gov: This website should be your first stop. It shows the title, agency, opportunity status, posted date, close date, and other details for all types of grants, including matching ones.
Benefits.gov: This resource shows you what the matching grant is and how to apply for it. You can also answer questions with a quiz to see if your nonprofit is eligible. If the quiz tells you that you are, you can subscribe to updates for that particular grant.
USDA.gov: You can find many government-based nonprofit grants through grant notification listservs, such as this one from the United States Department of Agriculture. Just choose your subscription preference (email or text) to get notifications when any grant opportunities, including matching grants, appear.
As we hinted at in our list, every matching grant has different eligibility requirements. Practice sound nonprofit grant management by reading the fine print of every potential grant. That way, you do not waste your time applying for one that you have no chance of getting.
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How To Write a Matching Grant Application
In addition to figuring out how to find grants, you also need to know how to fill out grant applications. The application process for a matching grant resembles that of a typical grant. However, it places more emphasis on describing how those matching funds will be used.
To make this a less time-consuming and stressful process, here are our writing tips:
Treat each application as unique: Every grant program has its own application process. Do not use the same form proposal for all of them because grantors can tell when grant applicants are cutting corners. Intent matters, so write a new application for every new grant.
Follow all of the instructions: Speaking of unique, every grant has different requirements and guidelines. Check all of the instructions before you get started to ensure compliance. For example, you need to know what the deadline for the application is and what financial information to include with the application.
Be clear about your matching: Most grantors provide either cash or in-kind matching grants, but some offer both. If you are working with the latter, be clear about whether you will match their contributions with funds, goods, or services.
Highlight your revenue reserves or quantified resources: Smaller foundations, larger corporations, and other grant-providing organizations want to know that your nonprofit has the funds to match theirs. So, include the proof — in the form of revenue statements and other financial documents.
Pro Tip: Your grant application is a platform upon which to plead your case. The goal is to earn the right to receive the matching grant by providing supporting evidence that shows how you will use these resources to forward a worthy mission.
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Matching grants support the efforts of nonprofit organizations worldwide. Though they require more effort in terms of identifying how to match the grantor’s funding, they can be just as rewarding — if not more — as any other type of grant. How could your nonprofit use matching grants?
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💡What is a matching grant?
A matching grant is when both the grantor and the nonprofit contribute to funding a particular project. Find out more.
🔑 How do I find matching grants for my nonprofit?
You can find matching grants in the same places where you would look for other types of grants. For example, Grants.gov is a popular database for all types of grants. Find out more.
📝 How do I write a matching grant application?
A matching grant application mirrors a standard grant application. However, you need to include what funds or resources you are going to use on your end to match the grant. Find out more.