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Nonprofit Technology Grants: How To Find And Win Them
Finding and applying for nonprofit technology grants can be one of the best ways to fund a new technology investment in your organization.
To maintain an engaged audience of donors, nonprofits need to be able to collect and communicate data about their impact. They also need to be able to track the actions they take with individual donors to effectively move them through the donor lifecycle. Many software solutions, applications, and other technology exist today to manage and even automate some of these tasks with greater ease.
While nonprofits may run on tighter budgets, an investment in quality software and technology will increase fundraising opportunities and organizational efficiency. One way to fund your nonprofit’s technology needs is through nonprofit technology grants.
If you’re looking to upgrade your nonprofit’s technology solutions, this article will help get you started. We’ll cover:
- What Is a Technology Grant?
- How to Find Nonprofit Technology Grant Opportunities
- 4 Tips for Winning Nonprofit Technology Grants
What Is a Technology Grant?
There are two main types of technology grants from which nonprofits can benefit:
- Those that help nonprofits build their software and information technology capacity. For example, a grantmaker might make an in-kind donation of tablets for nonprofit staff who conduct street outreach and need to be able to quickly collect survey data from clients. A grantmaker might also provide the funding a nonprofit needs to upgrade its videoconferencing software to be able to reach more clients.
- Those that support nonprofits that have technology-related initiatives. For example, a nonprofit that helps rural communities access the internet might receive in-kind support from a grantmaker that provides 100 smartphones to distribute to people in one of the nonprofit’s target communities. They might also provide a grant to fund staff time, supplies, or other costs of running the program.
Nonprofits with technology-related initiatives can likely find support for their programming through both nonprofit technology grants as well as other broader funding opportunities. Below, however, we’ll focus on avenues for finding grants that are specific to nonprofit technology needs.
How to Find Nonprofit Technology Grant Opportunities
There are a variety of pathways for finding nonprofit technology grants. Some of the most productive routes to take are detailed in the sections below.
Foundations Focused on Growing Nonprofit Capacity
Search for local, regional, or national foundations that have a specific interest in seeing nonprofits succeed.
For example, the Arts & Culture Alliance in Knoxville, Tennessee, offers annual Ann and Steve Bailey Opportunity Grants for local nonprofits. These funds are designed to spur administrative growth and sustainable operations for artists and nonprofits. Given the focus of the grant opportunity, nonprofits can make a strong case to receive funding for software, website designers, or other technology-related needs that would increase their organizational capacity.
The Aspen Institute is an example of a national organization that provides support for growing nonprofit capacity, as well as other digital equity issues. Over time, they have offered opportunities like the Digital Equity Accelerator program and a Nonprofit Capacity Building Grants Program.
When looking for these types of foundations, try using keywords such as:
- Nonprofit capacity building funds
- Nonprofit incubator program
- Grant for nonprofit administrative support
Nonprofit Grant Search Engines
There are several online search engines for identifying nonprofit grant opportunities. Some of these include:
- Foundation Directory from Candid (formerly Foundation Center)
While some of these search engines require a subscription, many offer a free trial to start.
When using these search engines, try keywords such as:
- Technology grants
- Software funding
- Nonprofit capacity building
- Digital equity grants
- IT support funding
Current or Potential Tech Providers
Many technology companies offer grant programs or other donation opportunities as part of their corporate social responsibility plan. Others may also offer grant opportunities as an incentive for obtaining new customers.
Review your current technology and software providers and research whether they offer funding opportunities for nonprofits. Also make sure to look at providers with companies you’re considering switching to or otherwise using for your operations to see if they have any deals or grant programs for new customers.
Here are a few examples of existing nonprofit technology support programs from some common tech providers:
- Google: Offers grants to support nonprofits looking to increase their digital advertising.
- Verizon: Has a grant program focused on digital inclusion, climate protection, and human prosperity.
- IBM: Runs an Impact Grants program that covers a wide range of initiatives, including tech for social impact.
- Cisco: Provides in-kind and cash grants that focus on the social impact areas of crisis response, access to education, and economic empowerment.
3 Tips for Winning Nonprofit Technology Grants
All grant applications should be written in a way that tells your nonprofit’s story. Your ask for funding should always come back to how it will help you fulfill your mission. In addition to taking a story-driven approach, there are a few other strategies you can use to ensure an impactful nonprofit technology grant application.
1. State Your Current Limitations and How This Grant Will Solve Them
Don’t be shy about sharing what isn’t working for your nonprofit at the moment. If you’re unable to be as efficient or effective as you could be given current technology limitations, detail that in your grant. Be sure to follow it up with concrete ways that the grant you’re applying for will help you overcome those challenges.
Taking this approach helps your grant funder see the value of selecting your nonprofit for a technology grant. It lets them know that their assistance will make a noticeable difference in your operations.
2. Use Current Data and Share How You’ll Measure Impact
As you’re describing your current situation, incorporate data wherever possible to help quantify your needs. For example, you can share:
- How many people you’re able to serve with your current technology and how many more you anticipate being able to serve if awarded this grant
- Number of hours your staff members currently spend on data entry and other reporting requirements and how the technology grant will help reduce that administrative burden
- Gross fundraising revenue from the past year and how obtaining a grant to purchase new donor stewardship software will help you to increase that amount in future years
In addition to using data to describe your current situation and anticipated improvements after receiving the grant, share how you’ll measure impact after using the grant funds. For example, after implementing new data collection software, you might track staff hours spent on data entry every week to compare that to past years.
Many grantmakers require a follow-up report to gauge how their philanthropy is making a difference. Letting grantmakers know in your application exactly how you plan to measure impact speaks in a language that will appeal to them.
3. Include a Detailed Ask
Show that you’ve already thought through your execution plan for the grant funds and your plan’s sustainability over time by including a detailed ask in your grant application. For example, let’s say you’re an arts nonprofit asking for $5,000 for new videoconferencing software so you can run additional virtual workshops and events.
Rather than simply asking for $5,000, break that down into parts. Include how many licenses that covers and why you need that many, how many months of the service that includes, and what the taxes are on the purchase. Share why you selected that software over other options you reviewed. You can also share how the software will allow you to bring in additional revenue through your virtual events, creating a way for you to continue paying for the service after the grant funds have been used up.
Leverage Nonprofit Technology Grants to Increase Capacity for Your Mission
Software and other technology are vital for keeping your nonprofit operating efficiently and effectively. If you’ve noticed it’s time to upgrade some of your technology, but are wondering how to fund that need, nonprofit technology grants can help fill gaps in your budget.
Leveraging nonprofit technology grants can ultimately streamline your operations, increase your capacity to fulfill your mission, and connect you to a wider digital audience.
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