5 501c3 Grants to Apply for in 2024

  • By: Gina Guy
  • March 12, 2024
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Grants provide a vital source of funding for many nonprofit organizations, offering the financial support needed to carry out their missions and make a positive impact on the communities they serve. For 501c3 organizations, which include charities, educational institutions, and other types of nonprofits, there are specific grants available.

Whether you’re seeking to expand your programs, launch a new initiative, adopt new board meeting software, or simply maintain your current operations, the grants we’ll discuss below can provide the funding you need to make a difference.

What is a 501c3?

So, what is a 501c3 nonprofit? Under section 501c3 of the Internal Revenue Code, a 501c3 is any organization that is exempt from federal income tax. 501c3 requirements vary greatly from state to state. Generally, these organizations rely on grants and other funding sources to activate their mission.

To be deemed a 501c3 organization, a nonprofit has to prove that it meets the definition of a charity according to the IRS. The purpose of these nonprofit organizations must be described in at least one of the following ways: 

  • Providing aid or support to the poor and underprivileged
  • Promoting the advancement of a religion
  • Advocating for the advancement of science
  • Championing improved civil or human rights
  • Preventing or advocating against discriminatory policies
  • Preventing or advocating against child abuse or animal cruelty 

501c3 organizations can have their tax-exempt status revoked if they are proven to be using charity profits for non-charitable activities, using the organization to campaign for a specific political party or candidate, or serving the interests of shareholders instead of their expressed mission.

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501c3 Grants to Apply for in 2024

The following organizations are awarding nonprofit grants in 2024.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Bill and Melinda Gates use their money to fund many different causes, but the chief concern that binds the majority of their endeavors is providing better public health services to underprivileged communities in the developing world. 

Since its creation in 1994, the Gates Foundation has funded projects aimed at enhancing efforts to combat AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, as well as supporting vaccine programs with the goal of eliminating polio. The organization has also provided grant funding for the development of sustainable water, sanitation, and hygiene services, the establishment of learning institutes, the education of women on contraceptive options, and other initiatives.

The Gates Foundation awards the most of its grants to organizations identified by its staff, but they occasionally award grants through a Request for Proposals process.  Proposals should include an investment document with a proposal narrative and the estimated budget. If the grant is approved, then grantees are expected to report back on their progress and financial status regularly. 

2. Ford Foundation

Started in 1936 by Edsel Ford, the Ford Foundation works to combat inequality across gender, racial, and economic lines. It’s the second-largest private foundation in the United States, using its $16 billion endowment to give grants to those attempting to make the world a more fair place, be it through human rights, education, or labor rights. 

The Ford Foundation takes outside proposals that fit within its line of work, though it gives most of its grants to people and organizations sought out by the foundation’s project teams. The foundation works with grantees to create functional proposals, reviews the idea for legal compliance, and issues an official grant letter if previous steps are successful. It monitors progress through visits and written reports. 

In addition to grants, the Ford Foundation also provides program-related investments in the form of loans or equity stakes to help programs earn funding from other sources. These investments are expected to be paid back in the future.

3. Open Society Foundations

The George Soros-founded Open Society Foundations strives to support the advancement of global democracy to make progress in the foundation’s four areas of focus: justice, equity, expression, and climate justice. 

Most of the grants Open Society awards are given to organizations directly or through intermediary agents as specific project grants or as general operating support. They also deliver some grants to individuals, but those are primarily sent through their fellowship programs. On top of the 501c3 grants, Open Society will make recommendations for 501c4 grants in support of political lobbying. 

The application process for grants differs depending on the program. The requirements can include requests for proposals, letters of inquiry, or concept papers. Make sure to study each program to ensure this organization is a good fit for your proposal. 

Potential grantees are allowed to apply for multiple grants simultaneously, although Open Society may combine proposals to streamline the process and lower administrative costs. You can search for new grant opportunities on the Open Society Grants and Fellowships page.

4. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation centers its work on boosting health equity around the world. Its grant process often begins with a call for proposals that address specific objectives, but the foundation will also utilize prize competitions and direct solicitations for projects. 

A program officer is assigned to each grant. The officers are available to answer any questions and help you complete an application that meets their standards. You can download a sample version of an RWJF grant agreement on their grant process page to see what details are the most important in your application and see the foundation’s rules regarding budgets, research, and reporting.

5. National Endowment for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is an independent federal agency that awards over 2,000 grants a year to nonprofit organizations, creative writers, and regional agencies to support diverse art projects in America. 

To apply for one of their federal grants, applicants must first register with Login.gov, the System for Award Management at SAM.gov, and Grants.gov. Once your registrations are complete (this step can take weeks to complete), grantees then have to fill out two documents to complete their application:

  • The Application for Federal Domestic Assistance on Grants.gov: This form displays the basic information of your nonprofit, such as its name, location, and the contact information of your staff.  
  • Grant Application Form in the NEA Applicant Portal: The Grant Application Form is where you describe your organization’s mission, history, and financial background. You will also outline your project’s timeline, budget, and what communities you intend to help. 

The NEA website has a FOIA Reading Room where you can look at sample application narratives from previously supported applications to get an idea of how to present your materials.

Getting Started With OnBoard

Finding the right 501c3 grant for your organization can be a challenge. When the time comes, a board management software solution like OnBoard can help to support your nonprofit grant writing goals and objectives. From voting and approvals to secure messaging, the OnBoard portal gives board members the tools and resources to communicate effectively. 

If you’re in the market for a new board meeting management solution, we recommend downloading our free guide: Board Management Software Buyer’s Guide.

What’s inside?

  • The mission-critical technology, features, and security of board software
  • How to identify best-in-class board software providers
  • A practical board management vendor comparison tool

Download this guide and make an informed decision for your board and nonprofit.


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About The Author

Gina Guy
Gina Guy
Gina Guy is an implementation consultant who specializes in working with nonprofit organizations get the most from their board meetings. She loves helping customers ease their workloads through their use of OnBoard. A Purdue University graduate, Gina enjoys refinishing furniture, running, kayaking, and traveling in her spare time. She lives in Monticello, Indiana, with her husband.