Local Funding Sources: Tennessee

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Are you interested in the country’s premier collection of Salt & Pepper Shakers? Check out the Museum of Salt & Pepper Shakers in Gatlinburg! Okay, that’s a pretty specific focus. But so is looking for grant funding for your specific nonprofit organization. Where do you go to look for that? Right here! Several impressive lists and web-links are located directly below.

These contacts represent a wonderful variety of funding opportunities. As you prepare to approach them, you might ask: Do they all have the same application requirements? Unfortunately, no. The reality is that each funder has a different set of criteria that they apply to potential applicants. You have to find the best match with the specific funders who support your type of organization, and then learn how to approach them. That’s why grant proposal writing and research instruction is so important.

Who leads the field in teaching those writing and research skills? We do! With guidance from our top-notch trainers, you practice concepts as you learn them. Using our trademarked Listen & Discuss, Do & Review®️ curriculum, you get results! This active classroom experience is why our alumni claim remarkable success. Our 5-day Grantsmanship Training Program is the industry-leading workshop. Pressed for time? Our webinars may be just what you’re looking for. Check out our schedule to find something that suits you.

But that’s not all! “Read more” below for additional online training resources, along with three important steps to develop a new, grant-winning strategy.  

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Questions? Contact: Gail Brauner: gail@tgci.com (213) 482-9860 X1




Below are links to elected officials, funding sources and other useful agencies for grant-seeking groups in Tennessee. Please let us know about others that you feel would be helpful so that we can continue to improve this listing. Thanks!

Government offices:

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee - (615) 741-2001, Nashville

Lamar Alexander - (202) 224-4944, Washington, DC

Marsha Blackburn - (202) 224-3344, Washington, DC

Herbert H. Slatery III - (615) 741-3491, Nashville

If you’d like to know the names and addresses of other elected officials that represent you and your area, click here to locate them: Tennessee Elected Officials

State Funding Sources & Other Government Resources:

A Guidebook for Tennessee Nonprofits - The Attorney General’s office has published this document for Board members of nonprofit organizations throughout the state.

Tennessee Arts Commission - The TAC is the state’s arts agency whose mission is to cultivate the arts for the benefit of Tennesseans and their communities. Each year, the Commission helps fund the arts and cultural activities for more than 700 organizations, schools, local governments, nonprofits and artists in Tennessee.

TN Higher Education Commission & Student Assistance Corporation - THEC is responsible for outreach to institutions via both state and federal grant programs, including: TN Reconnect Community Grant Competition; Advise TN; Drive to 55 Project Capacity Fund Grant; Institutional Outcome Improvement Fund Grant Competition; TN Promise Forward; and Veteran Reconnect Grant. Note: Not all of these programs may be funded for 2019 and 2020, and for those that are, application deadlines vary. Contact the Commission for updates and details.

Other helpful organizations: 

The Association of Fundraising Professionals empowers individuals and organizations to practice ethical fundraising through professional education, networking, research and advocacy. The four chapters in Tennessee include: 

AFP Nashville Chapter 

AFP Memphis Chapter  

AFP Southeastern Tennessee Chapter - Chattanooga and surrounding areas

AFP Great Smoky Mountain Chapter - Knoxville

Center for Nonprofit Management - Based in Nashville and serving the entire state, our mission is to amplify the impact of nonprofits and their partners in order to achieve a connected community equipped to realize our greatest opportunities. CNM builds nonprofit capacity through consulting services, educational workshops and trainings, collective impact programming, networking opportunities, special events, resources and other member benefits., and more. 

SCORE - (National website) is a uniquely American organization that synthesizes two historic national ideas: entrepreneurial spirit and volunteerism.  We are passionate about using our knowledge and expertise to assist and support local business owners, entrepreneurs and nonprofits during every phase of business. Listed below are the local SCORE organizations in Tennessee:

SCORE - Chattanooga Main Office

SCORE - Chattanooga Winchester Office 

SCORE - Greater Knoxville 

SCORE - Memphis  

SCORE - Nashville 

Venture Forward - Based in Chattanooga, VF strengthens nonprofits and our community by sharing information, providing training and professional development and encouraging collaboration. We serve nonprofit staff, volunteers and boards, seeking to engage with the sector. We understand the need for nonprofits to optimize time and resources.  We provide services that are the right fit for our nonprofit community.


Have you checked out your local Community Foundation yet? These are potential funders who know the needs of your community in great detail, and who will want to learn how your organization fits within the local service network. Each Community Foundation is entirely unique, but their general goal is to recruit donors and their contributions, then help distribute those dollars to local nonprofits, schools, artists, churches and other groups. Click here on Tennessee Community Foundations to see a list of them and the geographic areas they serve, or simply click on the specific Foundation names below.

Want to learn more about Community Foundations before approaching your nearest one for funding, or learn about their other resources? Click here on What’s a Community Foundation? Remember, research and insight are key to developing a successful Letter of Intent (LOI) and a grant proposal with impact. 

Appalachian Community Fund - ACF was founded in 1987 to bring new resources for grant funding to groups working for progressive social change in Central Appalachia, including East Tennessee, Eastern Kentucky, Southwest Virginia and West Virginia, and to be a sustainable resource base for community organizing and social change work in this region. Since our inception, we have awarded over $6.5 Million to more than 300 organizations working to help low-income people organize themselves to address systemic problems of poverty, racism, and social inequity in their own communities and neighborhoods.

Community Foundation of Greater Memphis - Based in Memphis, we award discretionary grants only in our service area: West Tennessee, eastern Arkansas, and northern Mississippi. Nonprofit Capacity Building grants are awarded to established nonprofit organizations that are working to become more effective by improving operations and increasing efficiency. The application process opens in July, with awards announced in December. GiVE 365 grants are awarded to nonprofit groups whose projects fit an annual theme. Grants are decided by the GiVE 365 membership -- dollar-a-day philanthropists -- who choose the yearly theme and research all applicants. The application process opens in December, with awards announced in May. Collierville Community Fund grants are awarded to organizations serving Collierville, Tenn. Grants are decided by its Board of Advisors, a group of Collierville community leaders. The application process opens in April, with awards announced in August.

Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee - Based in Nashville, CFMT has served as a leader in philanthropy for more than 25 years, bringing good people and good causes together in 43 counties in Middle Tennessee and Kentucky. The Foundation’s grant making includes more than $796 million to community programs and institutions over its 25-year history.

Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga - Through innovative and effective grant making, we support a vision of a community where all our neighbors have access to the resources they need to reach their fullest potential. We believe investment in such caring and inclusive communities will result in greater economic mobility and shared opportunities for all across Hamilton County.

East Tennessee Foundation - EFT is comprised of 461 philanthropic funds and 9 supporting organizations with over $448 million in assets as of year-end 2018. We have awarded 115 new educational scholarships in 2018 totaling $811,615, and over $59 million that same year to nearly 1,200 of nonprofit organizations in East Tennessee and across the country.

The Generosity Trust - Based in Chattanooga, TGT is all about Empowering Christian Generosity.  Our primary purpose is to provide donor-advised funds for believers – all across the country – to assist them in honoring the Lord with what He has entrusted to them.  As a smaller “boutique” firm, we’re nimble enough to provide customized care to our donors, and large enough to handle just about anything that comes our way, including charitable grantmaking, distributing scholarship funds, and providing services to simplify charitable giving for generous Christians.


All United Way organizations around the country are dedicated to supporting projects within the four main areas of Health, Education, Financial Stability and Disaster Recovery of Individuals. While they share this common focus, each UW chapter also provides funding and support for programs customized to the needs of its home area. To find out more about a specific UW in your area and its resources and nonprofit funding opportunities, please click on the links below:

United Way of Anderson County - UWAC is working to create positive change in our community. We fund 33 local agencies and programs in Youth Development, Self-Sufficiency, and Health & Human Services - three areas that encompass the unique and critical needs in Anderson County.

United Way of Blount County - We support organizations that help Blount County's most vulnerable residents through programs that create a healthy, well-educated and self-sufficient community. We surround Blount County's most critical problems, and we Fight the Good Fight. We have one life. To live better, we must Live United.

United Way of Bristol - UWB is committed to ensuring that our financial and human resources are invested to have the greatest impact on the lives of people in the Bristol area.  We invest in direct services through programs along with more targeted collaborative grants to help build bridges between people in need in our community and the programs and initiatives that can help them.

United Way of Greater Chattanooga - UWGC builds stronger communities in Greater Chattanooga by increasing access to better education, health and stability.

United Way of Greene County - UW of Greene County brings people together to build a community that values our collective responsibility to care for one another.

United Way of Hawkins County - UW of Hawkins County is an organization that helps provide assistance to agencies in our community which provide health, character-building, family resources and other essential programs in the Hawkins County area.

United Way of Humphreys County - UW of Humphreys County has been working for over 20 years to improve the quality of life for our residents here in Humphreys County. Along with workplace campaigns and our annual radio auction, we also support the TN Scholars program and work our local "Stuff the Bus" initiative each year. We are expanding our community impact through new programs and partnerships daily. 

United Way of Greater Kingsport - UW of Greater Kingsport fights to improve 1,400 lives every day by tackling early grade literacy, breaking the cycle of poverty, confronting access to effective health care, supporting the needs of our senior citizens, and battling the opioid addiction in our region. UWGK supports thirty-one member agencies and forty-three programs working in areas of Education, Income, Health, and Seniors, because these are the building blocks for a good quality of life.

United Way of Greater Knoxville - UW of Greater Knoxville fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in Knox County by supporting 115 programs through 54 partner agencies. Each year we help over 173,800 individuals, which is almost enough to fill Neyland Stadium twice!

United Way of McMinn & Meigs Counties - UWMMC’s Let's Read 20 Bus travels throughout our community with free books for children.  It can be found at numerous events in the community and is dedicated to building a community of readers.

United Way of Metropolitan Nashville - UWMN fights for a community in which every person—no matter their background, their circumstances or their zip code—has an equal chance at a bright future. We do this by uniting the community and mobilizing resources so that every child, individual and family thrives. Together, we are fighting to break the cycle of poverty; to give kids an equal chance to learn and succeed; to meet our neighbors' basic needs; and to build strong, healthy communities. 

United Way of the Ocoee Region - UWOR fights to break the cycles of poverty. By identifying needs and bringing stakeholders together to address the crisis and chronic issues our community faces, we find solutions to poverty related issues in education, health, and stability to positively impact our community and surrounding area.

United Way of Rhea County - UW Rhea County actively focuses on ensuring that every person within Rhea County is supported as they seek to better themselves and their lives. We currently support 16 agencies that provide life-enhancing projects in Rhea County in the areas of childhood and adult education, domestic violence, and helping individuals achieve financial stability. 

United Way of Roane County - UW Roane County helps identify issues in our community and leads the way in finding solutions. We collaborate with stakeholders in the community to enhance the quality of life through opportunities in education, health, and self- sufficiency. We also led the formation of a Dental Task Force that has resulted in a collaboration among private dental practices, local organizations, educational institutions, and the faith based community to provide affordable dental care to adults in Roane and Loudon Counties.

United Way of Sumner County - Since 1977, UWSC has been mobilizing the caring spirit of our community to create a positive impact on the lives of others. Working with individuals, businesses, and partner organizations, we work every day to improve the education, health, and financial stability of every person in Sumner County.

United Way of Washington County - UW Washington County fights for the Health, Education, and Financial Stability of every person in our community. We support 21 non-profit agencies and 32 agency programs that impact more than 50% of the residents in Washington County. We also provide direct programs such as Vello, a virtual volunteer reading program for 1st – 4th graders, and the NFL Character Playbook, a social and emotional character building program for middle school children. Our mission is to improve people’s lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities together to focus on the most important human needs - building partnerships, forging consensus and leveraging resources to make a measurable difference.  

United Way of Williamson County - UW Williamson County is committed to creating real change and measurable improvements in people’s lives. We work to make our community a place where every child is successful in school, families can be self-sufficient, and individuals have good health. 

United Way of Wilson County and the Upper Cumberland - UWWC & UC helps people over our entire 13-county service area with issues such as hunger, senior care and involvement, homelessness and early education.


New Year's Proposal Writers Resolutions

As the developer, writer and steward of funding proposals, you might consider approaching 2024 with new ideas and new energy for the task. It’s a wonderful/terrible tradition that we make resolutions at this time of year, so why not think about these for your proposal-writing list.

A Classical Approach to Grant Proposals

Before campaign advisors, spin doctors, influencers or ad men, there was the Greek philosopher, Aristotle. His treatise, The Rhetoric, laid out a durable blueprint for creating persuasive arguments and the elements he described are as useful today as they were in 4th century BC Greece. As proposal writers, we sometimes get lost in the weeds of data, logic models, detailed methods and other granular stuff. Preparing persuasive proposals can benefit from reviewing these classical principles.

Logic Models, in Plain English

There comes a time when a proposal needs to include a logic model. Many foundations don’t require one but an increasing number are asking applicants to go beyond objectives and show, in a descriptive chart, the route you plan to take to get to the destination.

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