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Non profit grants


Julissa Davis Gaston, SC

Good morning, several years ago I decided to work for an animal sanctuary with the intent to learn as much possible about owning one which is my ultimate goal. I now have the opportunity to purchase it from my employer. It is a 5013c. I am looking for funding to help with the purchase and ongoing expenses. Just wondering what the best resource would be to find funding. I’ve already been in touch with the SBA. I know there are programs out there for minorities, females, and veterans, which I qualify for each category. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

22 September 2021 10 replies Small Business



Roman Baca New York, NY

Hi Julissa,

If it is a 501(c)3 truly then I wonder what the terms of the purchase are? 501 (c) 3's are technically a public entity and cannot be purchased since they have no owners and no one can personally profit from its sale. The operations can be taken over, but that is up to the board of directors to decide.

23 September 2021 Helpful answer


Julissa Davis Gaston, SC

Thank you to everyone. I have reached out to a couple of resources you guys have recommended. Thank you again.


David Eastman Gresham, OR


Further to my comments to you last week and my recommendation about going to visit animal sanctuaries, here are 7 Wonderful Animal Sanctuaries to Visit in the U.S.

If you love animals, you might try to squeeze in trips to local zoos when you travel. But another option to see and support the animals you love is to visit wildlife sanctuaries that emphasize education and conservation. While some sanctuaries aren’t open to the public, there are many others that welcome guests. These are some of the best animal sanctuaries that you can visit in the U.S.

Chimp Haven – Keithville, Louisiana

Located just southwest of Shreveport, Louisiana, Chimp Haven is dedicated to the care of chimpanzees, many of which have been used for research. The facility is located on 200 acres of forested land and has staff to help care for around 300 chimpanzees. The chimps have lots of room to make sleeping nests, climb trees, and play on large structures. You can visit Chimp Haven on Chimpanzee Discovery Days, which happen about three times per year. Chip Chat & Chew Events give visitors a more intimate look into the chimps’ lives and include breakfast or lunch.

The Wild Animal Sanctuary – Keenesburg, Colorado

This wildlife sanctuary aims to rescue and care for animals, as well as educate the public about the risks of captive wildlife. Unlike a zoo, animals at the Wild Animal Sanctuary live in large, open habitats and aren’t required to perform for visitors. Instead, you can walk along a 1.5-mile walkway to see them in their natural habitats. Here, you’re likely to see lions, tigers, bears, wolves, and other animals on the 720-acre facility. Audio tours are available and accessible by cell phone to learn more about the animals beyond the posted signs.

Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary – Hot Springs, South Dakota

Wild horses used to run free across the lands of South Dakota, but rarely anymore. An Oregon rancher and naturalist established this sanctuary near Hot Springs, South Dakota to care for wild horses that aren’t adoptable so they can experience the freedom they deserve. You can stop by any time of the year to see the mustangs, and two-hour tours are offered. Photo tours and three-hour, cross-country tours are also available by appointment. There’s a gift shop that’s open daily, and you can also stay overnight at the sanctuary in a rustic cabin or prairie house. RV spots are also available with full hookups when combined with a tour of the sanctuary.

Animal Place – Grass Valley, California

Located in Northern California, Animal Place was founded in 1989 to be a home for farm animals. It’s located on 600 acres in Grass Valley and is dedicated to hundreds of neglected farm animals. Some animals are part of the permanent sanctuary, while others are available for adoption. You must register in advance to take a guided tour and see the pigs, goats, chickens, and other animals up close. Guided tours last about two hours and require a fair bit of walking. You can also do a self-guided tour, but these tours don’t allow for direct contact with the animals. There are some nice picnic spots to hang out in after your tour, but be mindful of the fact that all food you bring into the sanctuary must be vegan.

Catskill Animal Sanctuary – Saugerties, New York

Another sanctuary that focuses on rescued farm animals is the Catskill Animal Sanctuary in Saugerties, New York. This is just a couple of hours north of New York City. Animals that live here include cows, pigs, horses, and sheep. You can visit the sanctuary as part of the general public on weekends between April and October. No reservations are needed for these tours. The tours last about an hour and a half. There’s also a pre-Civil War residence called the Homestead where guests can stay overnight and enjoy a seasonal vegan breakfast.

Best Friends – Kanab, Utah
The Best Friends Animal Society has been operating the largest no-kill companion animal sanctuary in the country for over 30 years. This is an ideal place to visit for dog and cat lovers. You can take a free Grand Sanctuary tour any day of the year except for Christmas Day. These are two-hour tours that include a short video and a 90-minute van ride. They include interacting with cats and dogs and seeing sanctuary sites from the tour van. If you’re pressed for time, you can also take an abbreviated 45-minute tour instead.

Woodstock Farm Sanctuary – High Falls, New York

Woodstock Farm Sanctuary is another great sanctuary that cares for rescued farm animals in High Falls, New York. Between April and October, you can take a tour. The tours are about 75 minutes long and allow you to see the animals and hear their rescue stories. You can bring your own vegan lunch or pick up prepared snacks and sandwiches at the visitor’s center.

I hope this is helpful. And much success to you. When you open your animal sanctuary, email me and I will make a donation.


David F Eastman, US Navy veteran


June Webb Washington, DC

Hi Julissa,

One possible solution for funding is to create an online fundraiser and link it to a couple of social media accounts. FB has the most audience, and people live animals. Share some of your stories of the cause, experiences with the work, and your “why”. When you capture your audiences’ hearts, they will be glad help you. This Avenue of funding is by the numbers.

Good luck with your venture.
I am on Linkedin if you would like to connect there.

June Webb


David Eastman Gresham, OR

Hello, Julissa

First of all and, most importantly, thank you for your service. I too am an avid pet lover, have four cats, donate to the care and feeding of lion cubs in South Africa and recently donated to Friends of the Koala in Australia to treat their injuries from the massive fire last year.

Well, already becoming a 501(c)3 is important for your intent to seek funding and write grants. I am a professional grant writer for high technology and life science companies and so I am very supportive of your efforts.

First of all, I would go into which is the official granting site for the U.S. government. You may or may not know but every single government agency is required to provide Small Business Innovation grants to the general public and there is always an excellent and detailed list of grants available.

Secondly, I would reach out to animal sanctuaries currently providing care for animals and who probably are themselves, non-profits. Ask their Executive Director and Grant's Manager to give you some advice on how to pursue grants for your sanctuary. I know they will be most helpful. There are tens if not hundreds of animal sanctuaries in the US and around the world as sources for your inquiries.

In researching sanctuaries you may also learn they type of animals these organizations are caring for. Some just take care of wild animals, some just care for hurt animals, some just care for lost animals, others may focus just on dog, or cats, or jungle animals, etc. Having an idea about the type of animals you want to take care of in your sanctuary will make your grant writing efforts easier.

I wish you all the success in the world. And when you open your sanctuary, send me an email at: and I will send a donation, and especially so if you are caring for cats, both domestic and wild.

Kind regards,

David F Eastman, Retired CEO, US Navy Veteran and Cat Lover


Dominic Sansone East Hartford, CT

Your mileage may vary depending on where you live but your state has a federal office to help with grants. I would start at your federal senators office or federal member of the house. You state may have state level programs as well.


Julissa Davis Gaston, SC

Thanks for your responses. The land is in my boss’s personal name. I would be purchasing the land, and transferring the 5013c. I’ve put in a call to the small biz veteran’s rep for my area for some advice as well.


Elizabeth Hendler New York, NY

Hi Julissa,

I agree with the comments from the others. If it is a 5013c it is a specific type of tax-exempt organization registered under the IRS. Your local state also requires nonprofits to file with the AG (at least here in NY where I am). You can look up most nonprofit’s tax documents online through or other sites.

There are also many charity sites that track metrics about a nonprofit’s status and standing, their annual budget, board of directors and even things like their top highest three executives’ name, title and salaries, for example. Long story short, 501c3s are required to be transparent in certain ways, though it can vary a bit by type depending on what type of 501c3 it is.

Starting a nonprofit is a topic that comes up a lot on this website so I looked and found this handy overview:

In my experience you would not be able to buy a nonprofit like you would a business, as Roman notes, above.

A typical nonprofit 501c3 is a public charity that must follow certain rules depending on type. Most 501c3’s have a board and they are responsible for hiring and evaluating the performance of an Executive Director or CEO who oversees the organization. The agency is under day to day oversight of the CEO or Executive Director. My layman’s understanding of the set up is that it is kind of like the board stands in for the citizens of the state to ensure the nonprofit does what it is meant to do and adheres to the agency mission, honors donor intent and financial rules like reporting annual audited financials to the IRS.

Foundations are a different type of 501c3, with different requirements, as are private operating foundations, so you need to be clear on what type the 501c3 is as they have different requirements.

I have questions about if you would be puchasing the physical sanctuary facilities like a land purchase? A nonprofit can buy and sell land, buildings or other assets. The nonprofit could own the land or buildings of the the sanctuary and that is what you are looking to purchase to then start your own nonprofit. I’m not sure if it would be possible to operate a nonprofit on land owned by an individual, or not, and it may depend on the state and zoning requirements.

Because I was curious. I looked around and found this website which may be helpful:
I checked out NYS regs and there are many depending what type of animal, and many are prohibited here.

I’d ask a bunch more questions before agreeing to anything. Look into or request to see the last few years of financials. Are they in the black? Doing what their mission states and what they are supposed to do? Check out the zoning laws of the area. Is it legal to have this type of animal there? Do they have the right paperwork, adequate space for the species and do they comply with local laws? What’s their reputation? Are they struggling, or healthy operations with lots of donors and volunteers? Do they have any debt? What are the monthly operating costs? Etc.

Last, do they want you step in and take over and run the place, or hire you as their ED? Or is it a privately owned facility, and may not be a nonprofit at all? You should be able to verify everything. It should not be a mystery.

The Foundation Center, BBB for nonprofits and may be good places to learn more. You also might want to ask folks at your nearest local community foundation.

Doing this type of work likely comes with a lot of paperwork and compliance requirements, from the health of the animals, veterinary care, to local regulations or fees associated with operating this type of agency. I think it would be good to call around to other sanctuary nonprofits and ask for advice or if they know the place you are looking to work with/take over. There may be informal networks or groups that you aldo could ask for input as well.

Last is the fundraising question. Do they have regular donors? Annual fundraising events? Relations with corporations, foundations or individual donors that already support their work? What’s their budget? How tough will it be to fundraise and is it enough to feed, home and care for the animals? Fundraising is always tough so I always look carefully at the existing funders when I am considering working somewhere so I’m assured it is a diverse enough fundraising mix that if things change unexpectedly (like, say, a pandemic) they can still survive even if it requires a lean year or two.

Best of luck, Elizabeth


Julissa Davis Gaston, SC

Excellent! Thank you!


ACP AdvisorNet Staff New York, NY

Hi Julissa,

Thank you so much for reaching out! We are happy to be of assistance. Below are a few different resources that may be beneficial for you to look into. Hope this helps!

SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership – has a national network of over 100 educational centers that offer education and assistance for women starting or growing a small business. Link:

V-WISE - free training program consists of three phases; an online training course, a training event, and ongoing mentorship for graduates. The purpose is to assist female veterans and military spouses with identifying their passion and helping them grow their business skills. Link:

SCORE - Over 300 chapters, in-person events, mentorship programs, and webinars all designed to help with starting a small business. Not specifically aimed at working with military families, but offer some of the best resources. Link:

Kiva - non-profit that provides 0% interest loans to entrepreneurs around the world. It can be a great option to try before applying for a more conventional loan. Link:

LiftFund - credit and services to small business owners who don’t have access to commercial loan services. They specifically support businesses owned by women and minorities. Link:

Small Business Grant and Resources for Veterans 2018 from Nerdwallet Link:


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