Should We Apply for Small Grants

We get questions like, “Should your grant seeking organization or nonprofit take time to apply for small grants?” and the follow-up questions including “Are they worth it?” or  “Do they actually *cost* your organization money?” frequently.

These are all great questions for an organization to be asking themselves before they dig in on a new application. Grants are never “free” money – whether large or small, there is some cost to an organization to securing and implementing the grant beyond what is funded by the grant itself.

While there are large grants that organizations should really pause to ask themselves about before digging in on an application, most organizations pause to ask themselves about small grants.

Small grants may be defined differently by different organizations. For some, it is grants less than $1,000. For others, it is grants less than $5,000. For others still, it is grants less than $25,000.

The key is not what the level is that your organization defines as “small grants,” but rather the process by which your organization decides if the grant has a potential strong benefit for your organization.

Here are a few reasons that an organization might consider applying for small grants:

  • They are a new organization, so successfully receiving and implementing small grants helps build their capacity for managing grants and also builds credibility with grantmakers.
  • The organization may have a specific project where a small grant will make a significant impact with starting the idea/program.
  • The organization needs to make a distinct or one-time purchase.

Check out more in this new YouTube video we put together about this question.



  1. Christie Munson September 22, 2017at12:55 pm

    As a larger organization, we’re faced with this question throughout the year. In addition to funding a unique or one-time project, smaller grants are also a good way to make a connection with a corporation or funding entity that you may not already have a strong relationship with yet but you want to get on their radar. I call these “foot in the door grants” and sometimes they say yes, so it would be worth the time and effort.

    1. Diane H. Leonard, GPC September 29, 2017at9:47 am

      You’re exactly right, Christie! These small grants are often the first step in building a larger relationship.

  2. Linda October 11, 2017at1:57 pm

    At my organization, most of our grants are small. And I write a lot of proposals. They are annual funders who are in a cycle/phase of giving us a certain set amount annually, which we certainly appreciate – but I wonder (frequently) whether these are worth the effort sometimes. By “small” I mean less than $5,000.


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