A great question came our way via Twitter recently:
@ProGrantWriter still waiting on our 501c3 status… we can’t apply for any grants or funding until we are non-profit, right?
For the most part, that’s a correct assumption, but I will qualify that by saying it depends on the foundation you’re applying to.
Most foundations (with the exception of some small, local foundations) will post application guidelines either on their website or a database like The Foundation Center’s database. And those guidelines will generally address the 501(c)(3) requirement. My suggestion would be to contact the foundation you’re interested in applying to. They may have some wiggle room, but my guess is they’ll require you to be registered as a 501(c)(3) or apply under a partnering organization or fiscal sponsor, which you’ll have to prove through a letter of commitment from that organization.
Though they are few and far between, foundations like the Public Welfare Foundation will make exceptions for those still waiting for their 501(c)(3) application to go through. Read about their options for that situation here.