NONPROFIT LOANS: What it is, How it Works, & All You Need

Nonprofit loans
Credit: Qz

For most businesses, business lending is simple: apply for a loan and wait for a decision. Nonprofit business loans, on the other hand, have more moving parts. When looking for business loans for nonprofits, it’s critical to understand where to apply for funding and what criteria lenders use to approve applications. After all, these funds will be used by nonprofits to build infrastructure, pay employees, market their cause, and so on. In this post, we’ll define non-profit loans for small businesses and explain how loan funds can help you achieve your objectives.

What is a Non-Profit Loan?

A non-profit business loan is additional funding for a non-profit organization. Taking out a loan can have a significant impact on your business. You’ll have money to invest in your services while also incurring financial obligations. Term loans, cash advances, and lines of credit are all great ways for nonprofits to get money, but many of them have trouble getting them.

Why are Non-Profit Small Business Loans Hard to Obtain?

Most of the time, it’s harder to get a small business loan for a charity or other non-profit than for a for-profit business. Here’s an overview of why you might find the process a little more difficult.

#1. Strict requirements

Lenders, as one might expect, have stringent business loan requirements. They typically seek candidates with high revenue and cash flow, as these individuals are more likely to repay their business loans. And that’s why they’re in business: to ensure that candidates repay their loans with interest, which is how these companies make a profit.

#2. Risky investment for lenders

Nonprofits are considered risky candidates for small business loans by lenders. What’s the significance of this moniker?

Nonprofits are seen as more likely to default on their loans because they lack the profits and consistent revenue to pay back their loans. This is especially true for nonprofit organizations that are losing money. Nonprofits are risky investments because the lender loses money.

#3. Collateral is almost certainly required.

As a nonprofit or charity, the lender will probably ask for collateral (assets that they can take if you don’t pay back the loan) to secure the loan. This could include physical assets or cash reserves. Consider this because the seizure of collateral could jeopardize your nonprofit.

Non-Profit Loans for Small Business

Nonprofit funding options aren’t all doom and gloom. There are numerous options to consider and various ways to obtain capital. Here are some nonprofit small business loans to consider, as well as some alternatives, such as grants and government capital.

#1. SBA loans and grants

SBA loans, which are offered by traditional lenders like banks and backed by the SBA, may be an option for nonprofits. Through its Program for Investment in Micro-Entrepreneurs (PRIME), the SBA also gives grants to organizations that help people or communities who are poor.

In 2020, $8 million was given to 100 organizations in 44 states, which shows that the funds are available. Keep in mind that researching SBA resources and funding may take some time, but don’t be afraid to contact them for more information.

#2. Nonprofit loan funds

There are a few organizations that only make loans to nonprofits and charities. These are frequently nonprofits with the mission of bettering their communities. Even though these nonprofit loan funds are hard to come by, the people who do offer them often offer better terms or even loans with no interest.

#3. Nonprofit grants

You may already know that grants are an important way for nonprofits to get free funding. Many charities rely almost entirely on donations and grants, and many hours are spent on fundraising. The best part about grant awards is that they aren’t loans at all: you don’t have to pay them back.

Don’t forget to apply for a variety of grants when looking for nonprofit funding options. Make sure to look into a variety of grant funding options, including federal, state, and corporate grants.

It’s worth noting that applying for grants takes time, so consider creating a tiered system for the grants you want to apply for.

#4. Community development financial institutions

In the same way, community development financial institutions, or CDFIs, are banks that lend money to nonprofits. This includes loans from charitable and other non-profit organizations. It should be noted that loan amounts may be small (though some may offer larger capital amounts on occasion) and interest rates may be high.

Still, if you’re having difficulty finding loans for your nonprofit, looking into CDFIs could be a good option. Most CDFIs are non-profit organizations, but some may be banks or credit unions. Look for CDFIs locally, as they frequently operate within local or state jurisdictions.

#5. Credit unions and banks

When it comes to banks and credit unions, you can apply for a “traditional” business loan, such as a business term loan or business line of credit, through these institutions. Please keep in mind that obtaining bank loans for a nonprofit can be difficult. Most of the time, candidates must have a strong financial profile, since bank loans are only given to the best candidates.

If you have a very good credit history and your nonprofit is profitable, it may be worthwhile to apply for a loan through your bank. Look for language in their materials that says the bank or credit union lends money to nonprofits. Expect higher-than-normal interest rates as well—remember, it all depends on how they assess your risk.

#6. Corporate giving initiatives

While corporate giving programs may not secure the majority of capital that a grant or loan would, every dollar counts. If you’re a nonprofit with a worthwhile cause, you can reach out to local small businesses and corporations looking to give back to their community.

Contributions to corporate giving programs can take many forms:

  • Donations in cash.
  • Material gifts (e.g., free tickets if the small business is an entertainment venue).
  • Fundraising event sponsorships

If you take the time to look into it, you might be surprised at how many local businesses are willing to help your nonprofit.

#7. Business credit card

You may not consider a business credit card to be a loan, but it can be. After all, you’re drawing on a credit line that you’ll have to repay later. You can find business credit cards with low-interest rates with a little research, which is useful if you can’t pay your bills on time.

You can also apply for a business credit card with a 0% introductory APR. These cards differ from other business credit cards in that they provide a set period during which you will not have to pay interest on the balance you carry. These fixed periods are often up to a year long, giving you time to make money and make a plan for paying off the balance.

#8. Crowdfunding sites

This is becoming a more popular way for nonprofits to raise funds. Crowdfunding, as opposed to obtaining a large lump sum from a loan or grant, focuses on collecting small donations from a large number of people.

Which of the many crowdfunding sites—Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and GoFundMe—do you use? GoFundMe is popular among nonprofits and is ideal for fundraising for worthy causes. Many GoFundMe campaigns have been set up by nonprofits and private individuals to raise money for things like disaster relief, school diversity programs, and even medical care for pets.

What to Consider Before Applying for Small Business Nonprofit Loans:

What Organizations Provide Nonprofit Business Loans?

Unfortunately, nonprofit small business loans are difficult to obtain because few lenders provide them. In the eyes of a lender, lending to a nonprofit is just as risky, if not more so, than lending to a business. The lender will consider the following factors when considering your nonprofit:

  • The annual revenue of your company
  • Costs and plans for fundraising
  • Additional financial information

Many non-profit organizations rely on government grants and large donations. Unfortunately, as donors’ priorities shift, these revenue streams can quickly dry up. This increases lenders’ liability, which may result in higher interest rates or more application rejections. Furthermore, unlike a business, many nonprofits cannot simply sell more products or services. In fact, expanding your services may result in higher costs without increasing revenue.

Where Can I apply for Nonprofit Loans?

The application process will differ depending on the lender. You will, however, probably be asked to give accurate and detailed information about your income, expenses, and assets. So, you should get these things together before you apply for a small business loan from a nonprofit. The Small Business Administration (SBA) helps nonprofits and small businesses find lenders in the United States by giving them loans and other resources.

You should look for lenders who have worked with nonprofits or with helping the economy grow in the past. They may be more likely to accept your application and have a better understanding of the needs of your organization. Seeking funding from community development financial institutions is another viable option. They concentrate on businesses that have an impact on low-income communities, which may include nonprofits.

Examine Potential Liabilities

Your nonprofit will be held accountable for any loans made in its name. You might have to put up collateral, which could be taken away if you don’t pay back the loan. This could disrupt your operations and jeopardize the future of your nonprofit. Repayment plans will also add financial burdens to your cash flow, potentially causing liquidity issues. As a result, you should only take out loans for amounts that you truly require.

Furthermore, you must carefully consider the impact of repayment on your finances. If you’re worried about your ability to repay a long-term loan, a short-term loan might be a good idea. As a result, you will be able to meet your obligations before donor shifts or other market changes.

It is critical to read all of the fine print before applying for a term loan. You should be aware of the repayment schedule, interest rates, and fees. Remember that while longer repayment terms have lower monthly payments, they often cost more in the long run as interest accumulates.

Keep in mind that there are other financing options available.

Of course, not being approved for a business loan when you need additional working capital can be frustrating. However, there are other options for obtaining nonprofit funding. For example, you can apply for a business credit card or line of credit to gain access to working capital.


Finding nonprofit small business loans is not an easy task. Because of the way you are required to put your profits back into your business and the fact that you may have low income or a tight cash flow, you may not be eligible for many business loans


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like