Knowing where to find grants takes practice. Grant research is one of the main components of grant writing and sticks out to me as difficult for many people, like learning a balance pose in yoga, especially for a novice grant writer. Much like balance poses, grant research and the strategies around where to find grants can seem overwhelming at first. But, with a little practice, some guidance and persistence, both are very doable.
A big part of helping others in the world of development is making my experiences available to them in a way that allows them to save some time and energy in acquiring the same skills. This week I want to share the best tools I can for wher e t ofind grants. There are a lot of things that go into preparing for productive grant research. You should always know what you need before you begin your research. We suggest creating a prioritized needs list. What do you need, when do you need it, and how much will it cost. Then, look over your list and prioritize these needs by what you need first, second, etc. This list will be a huge help as you begin to wade through potential grant prospects.
After you have your prioritized needs list, consider the following questions about your program, project, or organization.
- What is the geographic focus of the program, project, or organization? (city, county, group of counties, region of a state, an entire state, region of the country, etc.)
- Where will the program/project have an impact?
- What is the field of interest the grant will support (STEM, mental health, historic preservation, immigration, etc.?)
- What type of support is needed? (general operating, construction, equipment, technology, endowment, capacity building, etc.?)
After this list of questions is answered, it will be easier to narrow down grants that fit each category. This is helpful in learning where to find grants. Now let’s think about where to begin researching for free.
One great free location to begin searching for grants available in each state is The Grantsmanship Center. You will find the top 40 grant-making foundations in each state, as well as the community foundations in each state. This is a wealth of information and will give a new grant writer or researcher hours of material to peruse. I suggest reading about each potential donor/foundation to begin building on your knowledge base for donors in your area. Knowing where to find grants in your area is important. Make notes and keep a list of those you feel may be an ideal fit for current or future projects. We made a quick 3-minute video walkthrough of how to access this content: Find the Top Giving Foundations in Any State Video Walkthrough
If you are looking for which community foundations may support your areas, we created a walkthrough of how to access this content as well: What Community Foundations Support Your Area Video Walkthrough
If you seek government/federal grants, www.grants.gov is the site that will allow access to opportunities by departments and agencies in one location. Be on the lookout for a walkthrough video for grants.gov coming soon to our YouTube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/fundingforgood)
For the Top 100 US Foundations by Total Giving, visit http://foundationcenter.org/findfunders/topfunders/top100giving.html. You can also access Top US Foundations by Asset Size, Top Corporate Grantmakers by Asset Size, Top Corporate Grantmakers by Total Giving and more on this page (look to the right side of the page when it opens)!
Another tool is Foundation Directory Online (FDO). FDO can be found throughout the country for free at various library locations. Typically there is a fee associated with using this software, but many libraries have purchased the software for people to use on-site at no-cost. You can find a list of libraries with this software at https://candid.org/find-us.
As you begin to find grants that you may feel are a good match to your current needs, I recommend you consider the following questions:
- Does the program/project fall within the donor’s areas of interest?
- Does the average grant size fit the need?
- Is the average grant award sufficient to carry out the scope of work?
- Will the dollars come in time for your need?
- Are there any restrictions? (like they don’t fund religious organizations or don’t fund lobbying activities, etc.)
These are great places for new and practiced grant researchers to find great prospects. Grant research and learning where to find grants is a skill set that is developed over time. No one starts out knowing it all or knowing how to do it all. Heck, I’ve been conducting grant research for over 20 years, and I learn new sites, new tricks and great tools all the time! Be sure to have realistic expectations, ask for help when you need it, and explore.
There is so much information out there! There are dollars to support almost any endeavor that comes from serving others and has a measurable impact. Remember, “People don’t want to fund your existence, they want to fund your impact.” – Beth Brodovsky
Questions to Ask Prior to Starting Grant Research