SOAR Voices


Bigger Isn’t Always Better!

When applying for funding, do NOT overlook the smaller local funding sources!

We have all heard the saying “all politics is local”—the same idea applies when thinking about accessing funding for your SOAR programs. For the purpose of this article we will change the phrase to meet our needs: “most non-profit funding is local.” The fact is, most corporate and foundation funding going to non-profits comes from organizations in the nonprofit’s local area.

Two of the most overlooked yet important types of funding for non-profits across the country are local community foundations offering relatively small grant amounts and locally focused corporate funding.

Community Foundations

Community foundations are tax exempt, non-profit, publicly supported philanthropic organizations that fund programs and projects for the broad-based public benefit of the residents in any specific area. The common mission of every community foundation is to enhance the quality of life in the local area—something that fits nicely with what SOAR offers the residents of any community. 

Most community foundation assets are held in separate funds established by local individuals, families, businesses, or charitable institutions. Each fund may have a special purpose, but the foundation’s board of directors, representing the community, oversees them all. The IRS recognizes community foundations as public charities in part because they receive support from the general public and their boards broadly represent the areas served.

Because it is important to always be seeking funding from different sources to diversify, do not stop trying to access funding from larger foundations. With that said, you should surely take advantage of some of the benefits offered by working with smaller community foundations to fund your SOAR activities, including:

  • fewer organizations competing to access the available funding;
  • less restrictive grant requirements;
  • general operating support; and
  • opportunities for relationship building.

It is very important to consider the time it will take to apply for the funding, the reporting requirements, and flexibility of the funding uses vs. the size of the grant. Many times people think you should only attempt to access larger pots of funding because that is the only way to “make it worth your while”. This is because people mistakenly think that the amount of effort to apply for larger and smaller funding sources is the same—this is not true. As discussed above, the smaller the grant, the easier the funds should be to access, use, and report outcomes for. When reviewing opportunities, if that is not the case, you should cross that opportunity off of your list!

Corporate Funding

Much like how community foundations focus on funding activities that are local or specific to certain geographic locations—remember that most corporate funding is also focused on the areas where their employees live and/or where the company does most of their business. One can easily find your area’s largest employers through a simple Google search. Then you can follow up by researching how to access the community giving funds offered by the companies listed.

For more information about applying for localized, community-based foundation or corporate funding, we encourage you to reach out to the SAMHSA SOAR TA Center at Your TA Center Liaison can produce a list of the foundations and companies offering funding in your local area and will help support you with applying to access this type of funding in an individualized way. We are here to help!

The views, opinions, and content expressed in SOAR Voices do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors.