Grantseeking Facts and Findings


This year’s State of Grantseeking Survey had over 2,800 respondents, and their grantseeking experiences can help inform your grantseeking experience. Here are some takeaways from the 2019 State of Grantseeking Report.

The individuals who took part in the survey on grantseeking are actively engaged in grantseeking. If you are not yet involved in grantseeking, these benchmarks can serve as guides or goals as you embark on a grants program for your organization.

Last year, 90% percent of respondents applied for grant funding, and among those organizations, 74% reported that one to two people were directly involved with the grant process. Compared to the same period in the prior year, 53% of respondents applied for more grants and 44% were awarded more grants. In addition, 41% reported the receipt of larger awards.

Active grantseeking results in more grant awards – simply put, apply more to win more.  Applying for at least three grant awards increased the frequency of winning an award. Twenty-five percent of organizations that submitted one application won no awards. However, only 6% of organizations that submitted three to five applications won no awards, and 2% or fewer of organizations that submitted six or more applications won no awards.

And certainly, the more applications one writes the more experience one gains. Even not winning an award can be turned into a valuable experience if you are willing to dig into what didn’t work and learn from it. For example, a perfectly good application for an excellent program will still be turned down if your location is outside of the grantmaker’s stated geographic scope, or if it is submitted past the due date, or if does not fall within the grantmaker’s interest areas. This seems obvious, but our grantmakers tell us that type of basic error occurs daily – so do your research homework before applying!

Although competition for a specific grant award can be stiff, organizations that make grantseeking a priority do win awards. Let’s look at some award size information:

  • Total awards of $100,000 or more were reported by 56% of respondents.
  • The median of total grant funding was $160,000; the median largest individual award was $69,100.
  • The median largest award from non-government funders was $35,000 (an aggregate of private foundations, community foundations, corporate grantmakers, and “other” funding sources).
  • The median largest award from government funders (an aggregate of local, state, and federal government) was $223,450.

I’m sure you all know the phrase “one of these things is not like the other” – well, that is especially true for nonprofit organizations and expected award sizes. Two things, your annual budget size and your mission focus have a major impact on grant award amounts.

Organizations with larger annual budgets consistently reported larger award sizes. Median total awards ranged from $9,600 for small organizations with budgets under $100,000 to over $4 million for extra-large organizations with budget over $25 million. The median size of the largest individual award ranged from about $7,350 for small organizations to $1 million for extra-large organizations. You can see how important it is to manage the expectations of your board and stakeholders so that your grantseeking success is compared to that of similar organizations. So even though I previously stated the median largest award from non-government funders was $35,000, if you are a small organization you can be proud of an award of $7,350.

Award sizes also vary by organizational mission focus. For example, educational institutions reported a median award total of $6.7 million, while animal-related organizations reported a median award total of $19,000. The median size of the largest individual award ranged from $10,000 for animal-related organizations to over $1 million for educational institutions.

Thus, it is terribly important to obtain fair and accurate benchmarks that reflect your organization’s budget and mission when “grading” your own grantseeking success.

Grantmakers are making awards – make sure that you are engaged in grantseeking for your organization!

Action steps you can take today