YMCA Funding: The Key to Finding Grants

YMCA Funding: The Key to Finding Grants

Funding is always a source of anxiety for non-profit organizations, and rumors of cuts to federal agencies never seem to stop circulating. Federal and local funding for non-profits, especially recreational programs, is becoming increasingly harder to come by.

In this landscape, finding an optimal mix of revenue1 for your non-profit via private contributions, government grants and investment income has become a necessity. As a preferred vendor of Y USA and trusted partner for YMCAs all over North America, we’re always looking for ways to solve the challenges you face, so consider these possible sources when you are looking to replace a grant or funding:

Check the YMCA Exchange

You have probably heard of Y of USA’s YMCA Exchange3, but it’s always good to check there first when looking for funding. You can search for grants that are meant specifically for YMCAs, based on the programs you offer and which areas need the most help.

Most grants will be aimed at specific types of programs, including:

  • Sports and recreation, especially for children
  • Fitness and physical health
  • Mental health support for children or adults
  • Support programs for those in a health crisis, e.g. cancer survivors
  • Financial support for the needy in your community

The biggest benefit of using YMCA Exchange is knowing these grants are specifically aimed toward your YMCA programs, so you have a better chance of securing funding.

National Sports Organizations That Provide YMCA Funding

YMCA of Broome County was awarded4 over $436,000 in 2018 through a grant from the USA Swimming Foundation

You may have success finding YMCA funding through national sports organizations or national governing bodies (NGBs) for sports. Focusing on youth sports in particular can be fruitful for securing funding. There are dozens of foundations that were established to foster a love of sports in children, including football, baseball, basketball, track, gymnastics, archery and cheerleading. But you may also find organizations that support funding for safety training related to these sports, such as water safety for swimming or CPR programs.

YMCA of Broome County was awarded4 over $436,000 in 2018 through a grant from the USA Swimming Foundation for promoting water safety education in its community. It was one of 78 Make a Splash programs out of 200 applicants to receive funding. The grant specifically covers water safety education but supports its swimming program overall.

Consider these NGBs when you are looking for grant funding for your YMCA sports programs:

Many local sports teams will provide their own grants for youth sports programs as well, so it’s worth looking into your local teams’ community giving to see if you qualify.

Finding YMCA Funding Through Philanthropic Organizations

Due to their focus on public issues, philanthropic organizations are particularly good sources for YMCA funding for activities or programs that aren’t sports or recreation-based. Identify areas in your program and community for which you can show solid evidence of need, such as educational enrichment, obesity prevention, safety training or volunteer programs.

Find an organization that aligns with your program’s mission, and determine if one of its grants is best for you. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation8 provides millions of dollars in support of a variety of health and educational projects around the world, including a $2.8 million grant to YMCA of Greater Seattle for middle school initiatives to target students’ attendance and achievement.

A local philanthropic organization may be a better source for YMCA funding than a national one, depending on the focus of the grant and the size and scope of the organization. Don’t feel like you need to limit yourself–you can apply for both national and regional grants to help your community programs.

Boost YMCA Funding with Private Business Grants

YMCA of San Diego County was recently awarded9 a grant from Anthem Blue Cross Foundation to expand the reach of its LIVESTRONG programMany large companies have developed grant opportunities for YMCA funding in recent decades. These organizations tend to support community initiatives that align with the products or services they are providing to the community.

For example, YMCA of San Diego County was recently awarded9 a grant from Anthem Blue Cross Foundation to expand the reach of its LIVESTRONG program to support cancer survivors. Anthem Blue Cross is a health insurance provider, so supporting community programs that deal with health and wellness makes perfect sense for its grant programs.

Consider these grant programs from private organizations as possible sources of funding for your YMCA:

The bottom line is that it’s important to be proactive about finding funding. Be strategic with which grant programs you apply for, and don’t spread your grant writing team too thin. Research recent awards to see what types of projects are currently being funded and how the awarded organizations made their case. Remember: Your programs and mission are worth supporting, and there are like-minded organizations who will help you find funding for your YMCA.

Financial Benefits of Membership Management Software - Free DownloadManaging your incoming funds is only half of the equation. If you’re in need of ways to track and analyze spending—often a key component in not only your grant application but also in meeting audit requirements if you win one—see how other YMCAs realized reporting and other financial benefits with a membership management solution in our free whitepaper13.








  1. https://grantspace.org/resources/knowledge-base/how-are-nonprofits-funded/
  2. https://www.activenetwork.com/solutions/active-net/ymca-software
  3. https://grants.ymca.net/
  4. https://ymcabroome.org/news/2018/05/21/news/receives-2018-grant-funding-from-usa-swimming-foundation/
  5. https://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/programs/grants/
  6. https://ussoccerfoundation.org/grants/
  7. https://www.teamusa.org/usa-archery/archers/explore-archery/grants
  8. https://www.ymca.org/about-y/news-center/press-release/ymca-san-diego-county-receives-grant
  9. https://giving.walmart.com/walmart-foundation/community-grant-program
  10. https://www.cabelas.com/category/Outdoor-Fund/112097880.uts
  11. https://www.sportsmatter.org/