Grants for Rural Nonprofit Organizations

Cheryl Cirelli
rural area

Grants for rural nonprofit organizations are not easy to find or qualify for due to a number of reasons. Many organizations that are in need of funding are unable to get it due to factors out of their control.

About Rural Nonprofit Organizations

Nonprofit organizations can be in both rural and urban areas. They exist wherever they are needed most. For example, there may be a nonprofit organization in an urban area that focuses on after school programs for inner city children who have nowhere to go once the school day ends. In a rural area, nonprofits may exist to help protect local farmlands or to create programs that support the local agriculture community.

Nonprofits that are in rural areas face many challenges due to their location. Many nonprofits in rural America try to address issues of poverty. The people in rural communities often are isolated and in economic distress. The region they live in may not have a lot to offer regarding jobs and education. Nonprofits often form to address these issues but have a tough time making ends meet due to financial problems. The problems result in a lack of grant funding, which is the backbone of many nonprofit organizations.

Grants for Rural Nonprofit Organizations

There are a lot of federal grant programs that center their focus on urban areas making it difficult for a rural nonprofits to qualify for funding. There is a lack of funding sources that focus on rural regions in the United States. Foundations that are located in the rural areas may give preference to hometown nonprofits whereas the larger grant giving foundations give preference to organizations that are in heavily populated areas.

Corporate foundations look for nonprofit organizations in their local communities as grant recipients. This means nonprofits housed in large cities across the nation are often given preference instead of ones in rural communities. Many rural organizations are not exposed to the grant making community due their geographic location which limits them from networking with foundation representatives and forming relationships that can help secure funding. Many foundations look for nonprofits that impact large numbers of people. In urban areas, this is not an issue but in rural communities the numbers may be low and this can cause an organization to not qualify for funding.

While it is unfortunate that funding is not plentiful for rural nonprofits, there are still grants and other means of funding for these organizations to consider.

Finding Grants for Rural Nonprofit Organizations

Just because it may be difficult for a rural nonprofit to find grants for which they qualify does not mean there are not ones for them to consider. A great starting place to look for grants is The Foundation Center Online or The Center for Rural Outreach and Public Services, Inc.

Another valuable site to check out is the Rural Assistance Center. This site has a wealth of information that is helpful to nonprofits in rural areas. From federal funding to private foundations, there are resources to guide nonprofits in the right direction.

Some grant giving foundations that award grants for rural development include:

  • The Ford Foundation
  • The Pew Charitable Trusts
  • The McKnight Foundation
  • W.K. Kellogg Foundation
  • Charles Steward Mott Foundation

There are also funders who are interested in giving grants to organizations that provide housing and economic development activities to those living in rural areas. Check with local bank foundations, the Fannie Mae Foundation or the Home Depot Foundation for their guidelines and to see if funding is available in your area. Some other foundations to check out include:

  • The John D. and Catherine T. Macarthur Foundation
  • F.B. Heron Foundation
  • Citigroup Foundation

End Notes

While it is not as easy to find grants for rural nonprofit organizations, it is not impossible. Many foundations do award grants to rural nonprofits. It just takes time to find foundations and companies support organizations in rural areas.

Grants for Rural Nonprofit Organizations