Grant Hurdle #2: Securing Unrestricted Funding

Have you seen this in a Request for Proposals?

Please state the amount for which you are requesting funding from our foundation, but do not say exactly for what you will be using the funding. We trust it will help you deliver your best programming.

We haven’t either. Yet unrestricted funding or general operating costs are essential for a nonprofit organization to thrive.

Here are 3 useful tips you can use right NOW to obtain unrestricted or general operating funds.

Tip #1: COVID Relief Funding

There are 957 separate COVID-19 relief funds or grant programs still in operation today in the U.S. (Candid, 2021). Their intent is to help nonprofits recover, repair, or revive their organizations so they can stay open and deliver vital services. This means you can usually ask for funding that is often considered “unrestricted” or “general operating” funding.

What you can do now:

  • Check with your local Community Foundation and United Way to find out if such funding programs exist in your region.
  • Research funders that provide COVID-10 relief funding using Candid or Instrumentl.

Tip #2: Funders are making it easier to apply for general operating costs (or unrestricted funding)

It’s true! I’ve seen numerous funders alter their application requirements from a lengthy proposal with 102 required attachments, down to wanting just a 1-page letter of request. Funders realize nonprofits have been stretched thin, even more so than usual, during this pandemic.

Even government grants are more plentiful right now thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) with many federal and state agencies shortening both the application process (good news) AND the time you have to apply (hurry up!).

What you can do now:

  • Approach the funders that have supported your organization in the past to check in about your current challenges, success stories and future plans. Ask if they will consider a request for general operating costs.
  • Research the state and federal agencies that most align with your work and find out if and how they will be disbursing the funding allocated to them under the ARPA. Keep in mind deadlines can come very quickly as the intent is to get these funds into the community as quickly as possible!

Tip #3 Don’t apply for general operating costs

But DO make sure that in your grant applications for specific program and services that you include these general operating costs in your Project Budget and grant request. How? Let’s say your program/service costs $200,000 to implement during a 12-month period. In your grant request of $30,000 be sure to include some line items that will pay for your rent, insurance, staffing and other costs that are allowable under that funder’s guidelines. It’s a piecemeal approach, but it will contribute dollars toward your organization’s general operating expenses.

Which of these three tips will YOU use this month?



margit brazada poirier

Hi, I’m Margit Brazda Poirier

I founded Grants4Good in 2009 to help nonprofit organizations and businesses find and get grants. Since then, I’ve helped thousands of people raise millions of dollars for programs via private coaching, customized grant writing training, and my course All About Grant Writing.

Free Guide

Learn the exact steps that helped raise over 30 million in grants for my clients.

grants 4 good logo

© Grants4Good®     All rights reserved

website design by Natalie McGuire Design