Each year, economic trends and global variables change the landscape for grantmakers and grantseekers. One way to capture the magnitude of these shifts is to dig into data. Grant statistics help capture the grantmaking and grant award prospects year to year.
Looking at grant statistics is one way grant writers can better position themselves for grant applications and understand where and how money is allocated through grant-funded opportunities. The following is an easy-to-read list of current grant statistics.
Grant Writing Statistics
Grant writing often encompasses a broad and deep range of funding opportunities. Each grant in each sector can come with strikingly different requirements.
One detail to consider as we close out 2021 is that grant allowable use categories may shift as the pandemic begins to pull back its stronghold. While grants have been expanded to allow for more operations support, a change from more traditional grant allowable uses, we anecdotally see the likelihood of shifting back away from operations funding when this state of emergency subsides.
Here are some other grant writing statistics:
A foundation grant may take between 15-20 hours to complete, while typical federal grants might run up to or over 100 hours to complete (Charity Science).
The grant writing average success rate is lower than you might imagine. Some say that only about 1 in 10 grant proposals is accepted (Professional Grant Writer).
In a study done by Grant Station, they report that 61% of all grant seekers relied on only one or two people in the grant writing and submission process.
Grant writers need to track grant cycles to understand tracking and monitoring grant applications and submissions. Grant writers report that most grants take approximately 1-6 months from proposal submission to award decision. More specifically, ⅓ of grant cycles run between 1-3 months and ⅓ of grant cycles run between 4-6 months (GrantSeeking). Depending on your funding needs, be sure to look for the published timelines of your grants.
Grant seekers and writers are primarily internal employees of the applicant organization (74%), while contracted grant writers make up only 8% of grantseekers (GrantSeeking).
The top three challenges to grant seeking outlined by Grant Station were 1) lack of time and/or staff; 2) competition; and 3) difficulty finding grant opportunities.
Grantmaking Foundation Statistics to Know
Grants are often created and awarded through foundations. These philanthropic financial entities are referred to in the grant sector as “grantmakers.” Here are some statistics you may want to consider about grantmaking foundations:
The top three grantmaking foundations are the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Lilly Endowment. These three foundations combine to a value of over $60 billion in investment assets (P&I). The assets account for just under 7% of all assets in the grantmaking sector. Check out Instrumentl’s free foundation tool to dig deeper into the top giving foundations by city and state.
There are over 86,000 grantmaking entities, with 92% represented by independent foundations (Foundation Center).
Foundation giving is second in charitable giving. Individual giving consistently amounts to 70% of the total, making it the highest charitable giving category year after year. Foundations represented 17% of the total charitable giving in 2019 (GivingUSA).
Larger foundations funding more than $10 million annually have lower application success rates than smaller foundations (under $1 million). This is due to the applicant pools being significantly larger for the larger funding opportunities (Candid).
Private foundations represent the largest award source primarily in nonprofit organizations. Of those organizations that reported private foundations were their largest source of funding, 95% were nonprofits (Grant Station).
The single largest source of funding for grants comes from the federal government. Most grant writers and nonprofit leaders will consider looking at the federal government for grant funding at some point. The following outlines some key statistics for federal grant awards:
The Health sector represents over 60% of all federal grants to state and local governments (Tax Policy Center).
The Department of Health & Human Services was the most significant federal grantmaking agency through awarding 29% of total grant funding (TAGGS).
Federal grants represent 40% of government funding sources, behind state government (47%), to grant-seeking applicants (GrantSeeking).
Federal grants are reported as the largest award sources; meaning, single grant awards are largest through federal grants (GrantSeeking).
When grants represent higher percentages of total budgets, governmental funds represent a larger share in comparison to non-government funds (Grant Station).
The National Institute of Health tracks grant applications against awards to show success rates by year. In 2020, the success rate was 21% (NIH Data Book).
The federal grants division has moved into the app space and now offers a grants.gov mobile application. It is worth checking out to search and submit grants away from your desk.
Corporate Grant Statistics
Beyond grantmaking foundations and federal grant opportunities, corporations also offer grant funding. Many corporations leverage grantmaking as a means to defer or reduce their tax burden. Considering corporate grants is a good idea within a comprehensive grant strategy. Some things to consider with corporate grants:
Corporations represent 17% of non-governmental grant funding (Grant Station).
The amount of funding from corporations increased in 2019 by 13.4%, resulting in $21.09 billion in funding. This is one of the larger increases; however, corporate giving is often linked with GDP as corporations look to adjust pre-tax revenue numbers. As such, corporate giving can fluctuate quite significantly year over year (GivingUSA).
More than 65% of corporate foundations offer matching grant opportunities (GuideStar).
The top three corporate foundations by giving amount are: 1) Novartis Patient Assistance Foundation, Inc.; 2) Wells Fargo Foundation; 3) Wal-Mart Foundation, Inc. (FoundationCenter).
The top 50 corporations represent only 2% of the total number of corporate giving foundations yet produce over 50% of total funding awards (FoundationCenter).
Corporations are watching and changing their giving strategies due to data showing that over 60% of millennials and generation Z want to work for companies with high corporate social responsibility awareness (GuideStar).
Corporate grants can be more difficult to find in comparison to foundation or government grants. One place to find these opportunities is Instrumentl; with us, you can create a customized search for your nonprofit’s programs so that you always have a pair of eyes looking out for active grant opportunities to apply to. Try Instrumentl for 14-days free here.
Research Grant Statistics
Another sector of grant funding comes through research grants. Beyond projects and programs, research and development are often the basis of grant funding. The majority of the funding in this category is provided through federal grants. Here are some other statistics about research grants:
Funding priorities change each year, currently, research grants are very high on funding lists (Grant Writing & Funding).
The top three schools by research funding are 1) Harvard; 2) University of Washington; and 3) University of California- Los Angeles (USNews).
The health sector is consistently the largest research-funded sector. The largest funder of health research globally was the United States National Institutes of Health ($26.1 billion). Other notable global grantmakers were the European Commission ($3.7 billion) and the United Kingdom Medical Research Council ($1.3 billion).
The top four research fields for funding are 1) climate change, 2) ocean acidification and marine ecosystems, 3) urban development and mobility, and 4.) cancer (Keystone).
The US government provides the majority of funding for basic research while business provides the majority of funding for both applied research and development.
Grant Management Software Trends and Stats
There is a growing push for grantmakers to automate their application and award processes. Additionally, grant writers and organizations are utilizing more and more technology tools to track and manage their grant requirements, deadlines, and accountability. COVID-19 has certainly shifted many operations to virtual settings, and grant management software often meets the demand for digital solutions. As a result, grant management software is expected to grow at just over 10% in the next five years (Markets & Markets). Some other notable trends in grant management software:
Cloud-based management software is expected to outpace computer-based software options (Markets & Markets). As we get more mobile and less desk-based, cloud solutions continue to capture the market.
North America is likely to lead the adoption of grant management software as an early adopter:
A future trend, according to WizeHive, will be seeing AI in grant management software. Currently, this is seen as being part of the reviewer process. If AI comes on the scene, it will be critical to learn the best ways to be noticed in this new evaluation structure. This technology likely won’t be limited to the reviewer side of the grants management functions; there are foreseeable integrations in streamlining applicant experiences as well.
Limitations on automated and digital grant management systems are varying government regulations and inconsistencies in the grant process between industries and countries (Data Bridge).
Grant Management Software for Grantseekers:
Instrumentl is the institutional fundraising platform. If you are looking to bring grant prospecting, tracking and management to one place, you may find our tools helpful. Our unique matching algorithm curates active grant opportunities for your nonprofit and our Tracker eliminates the need for separate to-do list apps and old-school spreadsheets. Create your 14-day free account and find more good fit funders for your nonprofit.
GrantHub is used by some nonprofits to handle just the management process of grants. The experience is somewhat similar to a traditional CRM approach to grants management. If you’re looking for a budget option, GrantHub may be worth checking out.
Foundation Directory Online (FDO) is a commonly used tool by grantwriters; some may be able to find free access through local public libraries. FDO can be useful for sifting through grant opportunities for your nonprofit. You may find less direct capabilities in terms of managing grants on FDO.
Grant management software is used by many organizations to find and organize their grant applications. The software helps build efficiency and save nonprofits time and effort.
Get 9 grant writing guides, exclusive to Instrumentl subscribers. Stress less and raise more—new guides every week, for free.
Grant writing advice, step-by-step guides, and more in our weekly newsletter.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
10k+ grant writers have already subscribed
Wrapping Things Up: Grant Writing Statistics
As a grant writer or nonprofit leader, you are tasked with understanding the grant writing process. This process begins with who and where the grants originate. Knowing the differences between grantmaking foundations, federal grants, and corporate grant statistics can save you time looking to prioritize your efforts where they are most likely to be funded. This is especially true for more narrow grant sectors like research grants.
Analyzing grant statistics each year is good practice to stay abreast of shifting trends and funding priorities. Additionally, watching the grants landscape provides better insight into where you might leverage your mission and organizational vision for additional funding opportunities. All of this adds up to a higher grant writer success rate and more funding for your organization.
Become a Stronger Grant Writer in Just 5 Minutes
Grant writers who raise millions stay up-to-date on trends and tips by subscribing to our newsletter.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.