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15 Different Types of Grants (And How to Manage Them)

Better application management of scholarships, grants, awards, and more.

15 Different Types of Grants (And How to Manage Them)

Did you know that federal grant-making agencies award more than $500 billion dollars annually in the United States? And, that’s just the federal grants. There are several different types of grants being offered as funding sources for organizations, research, projects, and individuals across private and public sectors.

In this post, we’ll break down all the different types of grants, and we’ll share how grantmaking organizations just like yours can streamline your operations using software. With programs like SmarterSelect, grants can transform organizations by automating cumbersome application, review, and tracking processes.

But, more on that later. For now, let’s dive into the types of grants that are giving away hundreds of millions of dollars every year!

15 Different Types of Grants

Believe it or not, there are 15 different types of grants. These include:

  1. Government Grants
  2. Foundation Grants
  3. Corporate Grants
  4. Non-Profit Grants
  5. Research Grants
  6. Educational Grants
  7. Arts and Culture Grants
  8. Small Business Grants
  9. Environmental Grants
  10. Humanitarian and Social Services Grants
  11. Community Development Grants
  12. Technology and Innovation Grants
  13. Matching Grants
  14. Capacity Building Grants
  15. Seed Grants

Now that you know what the different types of grants are, let’s explain them in greater detail to give you a better understanding of the grant landscape.

Government Grants

Government grants are provided by federal, state, and local government agencies to support public services, infrastructure, research, and other initiatives aligned with policy goals.

Major government grant sources include agencies like the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Education, and Department of Transportation. These grants fund critical needs like scientific research, healthcare, education, transportation, and social services.


Foundation Grants

Typically, awarded by private philanthropic foundations, foundation grants support a wide variety of projects and organizations.

Examples of these types of grants come from major foundations such as the Gates, Ford, Rockefeller, and Hewlett foundations.

The grants focus their funding on areas like global health, education, community development, arts and culture, and the environment. Foundation grants provide flexible funding for nonprofits.


Corporate Grants

Businesses and corporations provide these types of grants to nonprofits, schools, and local governments as part of corporate social responsibility efforts.

Corporate grants support things like:

  • Community programs
  • Innovation
  • Sustainability
  • Education, and
  • Other initiatives relevant to the company's mission.

Usually these grants require upper management, board members and various stakeholders to agree on where funding will go.


Nonprofit Grants

A nonprofit grant is a type of grant awarded to nonprofit organizations to help support their operations, programs, and services.

Nonprofits rely on grants from foundations, corporations, governments, and individuals to sustain their work. At the same time, nonprofits often will give out grants to other organizations when they either have a surplus of funds, or they want to help the community achieve various goals (i.e. building a playground or community garden).

Nonprofit grants allow nonprofits to provide programs, services, and resources that benefit specific causes, and support expenses related to program delivery.

These types of grants are usually restricted for specific program activities outlined in the proposal. For example, funds cannot cover general operating costs, and, like many of the grants in this list, nonprofits must track grant money and provide ongoing reporting to the funder about program progress and outcomes.


Research Grants

Research grants are usually awarded by government agencies, foundations, nonprofits, and corporations to universities, research institutes, and labs to support scientific research and discovery across fields.

Major sources include National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as disease-focused foundations.

An example of a research grant would be the NIH giving a grant to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in an effort to find a cure for blood cancers.


Educational Grants

Perhaps the most straightforward of the various types of grants, educational grants are intended to help students access and pay for various levels of education, including:

  • College
  • Graduate school
  • Vocational training, and
  • Continuing education.

Major sources include federal and state governments, universities, and private foundations and corporations. These grants usually consist of financial aid, scholarships, and additional support.


Arts and Culture Grants

Arts and culture grants are most often provided by all levels of government, foundations, corporations, and nonprofits to support the arts, humanities, museums, libraries, public broadcasting, and cultural heritage.

Key national funders include the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities.


Small Business Grants

These types of grants are provided by federal, state, and local governments as well as economic development groups to help small businesses launch, grow, innovate, and create jobs. Focuses on entrepreneurship, technology, and community development.

Typical criteria businesses need to meet to qualify for small business grants includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • Business structure: A for-profit small business such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or LLC. Nonprofits generally don't qualify.
  • Time in business: Many grants require businesses to have been operating for a certain period of time, often at least 1-2 years. New startups may need to look for seed grants instead.
  • Location: Small business grants are often restricted by location - city, county, state, or region.
  • Industry and activities: Some grants target specific industries, business activities, or products/services.
  • Size standards: The business must meet the grant program's small business size definitions, often based on maximum number of employees or annual revenues.
  • Use of funds: Grants have defined purposes, like equipment purchases, expansions, hiring, or technical assistance.
  • Matching funds: Many grants require recipient businesses to contribute a percentage of matching funds or in-kind services.
  • And, financial need: Small business grant applications require detailed financial information to demonstrate need.


Environmental Grants

Environmental Grants consist of funding for things like:

  • Conservation
  • Sustainability
  • Climate change research and mitigation, and
  • Environmental justice initiatives.

Major government sources include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and The U.S. Department of the Interior.


Humanitarian and Social Services Grants

Humanitarian and social services grants support programs and nonprofits addressing social issues like poverty, healthcare access, disaster relief, food security, and equal rights. These types of grants are usually funded by corporations and health foundations.


Community Development Grants

Community development grants are usually provided by governments, banks, foundations, and corporations to improve infrastructure, economic opportunities, housing, health services, and other needs in underserved and disadvantaged communities.


Technology and Innovation Grants

Technology and Innovation Grants fund research, development, and commercialization of new technologies across fields like engineering, computer science, life sciences, and clean energy. 

Major funders include governments, corporations, and university programs aiming to advance innovation.


Matching Grants

Just like it sounds, matching grants usually require recipient organizations to match a percentage of the grant amount with their own fundraising, donations, or resources. The goal of matching grants is that they will expand the impact of grant dollars and encourage community support.


Capacity Building Grants

Capacity building grants invest in strengthening the operational capabilities and effectiveness of nonprofit organizations. The purpose is to expand the ability of nonprofits to fulfill their charitable missions by funding improvements in areas like staff training, leadership development, board governance, volunteer management, strategic planning, internal systems, and technology infrastructure.

These types of grants provide long-term benefits by enabling nonprofits to improve their programs, services, administration, fundraising, and overall performance. Most established nonprofits are eligible, with grantmakers targeting organizations whose missions align with the funder's priorities. Nonprofits must demonstrate how proposed capacity building activities will measurably strengthen the organization and show the impact of capacity investments through metrics over time.


Seed Grants

These types of grants are often small, one-time grants intended to help launch brand new projects, organizations, research initiatives, or early-stage companies. Support experimentation and provide initial funding to test new ideas and approaches.

The Best Way to Manage Different Types of Grants - SmarterSelect

Regardless of the types of grants you’re managing, we know the process is filled with cumbersome manual tasks. From collecting and organizing applications to screening eligibility and reviewing submissions, grant processes often rely on paper files, spreadsheets, and tedious workflows.

This is where SmarterSelect's purpose-built platform can optimize and accelerate grant administration. SmarterSelect centralizes and automates key steps like application intake, eligibility checks, review routing, decision tracking, and awardee communication.

Our system's flexibility enables customization for any grant program while robust APIs and analytics provide data-driven insights. With streamlined end-to-end grant management, organizations just like yours can improve efficiency, consistency, transparency, and equity across all their funding programs, allowing them to award more grants and maximize impact.

SmarterSelect allows grantmakers to focus on their mission rather than administrative burdens. Learn what we can do for you, and schedule a demo today.


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