How to Find Grant Funding for Your Organization

2 of 9 in Series: The Essentials of Finding and Applying for a Grant

To identify as many potential grant-funding sources as possible for your organization, you need to carefully research the primary sources of funding: the public sector (federal, state, and local government) and the private sector (foundations and corporations).

As you read information on each funder, you see that not all funders want to receive a grant proposal without any warning from the applicant. For many, you need to, in a sense, seek permission to submit a full grant request. That’s why your initial approach (your first contact with the funder) is so important.

Review each funder’s initial approach preference to find what initial contact or approach document it requires.

Focus on finding open or current grant-funding opportunities first. Then you can print out expired notices and contact the grant-making agency to see whether the funding will be available again in the future.

When you’re juggling multiple funders, developing a work plan using a table or spreadsheet format and plotting this information is a good way to stay organized and on top of everything. Your work plan is an extension of all the details plotted out in your funding plan. The work plan is an ancillary document to track all potential funders for one program.

Make sure the funder number listed on your table matches up with the correct grant proposal. Also, as you move through the application process, fill in the last two columns on the right-hand side. In the status column, you can enter: writing scheduled, writing in progress, submitted, and pending decision. For the outcome column, you can fill in “funded” or “rejected” when you know.

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Conducting a federal funding search

Thankfully, the federal government aids your federal funding search with its one-stop grant opportunity information website, Grants.gov. Visiting this site is the quickest way to conduct a federal funding search.

After you log on to Grants.gov, click Find Open Grant Opportunities. Then type your search terms in the Keyword Search field. Sample keywords include “technical writing training,” “nonprofit capacity building,” “volunteer training,” and “professional development.” Your search should produce a list of federal grant opportunity announcements that contain your keyword(s). Simply click each one to read the announcement and determine whether it fits your specific funding needs.

You may want to search Grants.gov on a weekly or monthly basis because the federal government releases new grant opportunity announcements daily (except for federal holidays). Or simply sign up for Grants.gov alerts to get new notices of funding availability delivered straight to your e-mail inbox each day.

Performing a foundation or corporate funding search

When you’re ready to conduct a foundation or corporate funding search, the place to turn to is the Foundation Center. This center’s publications and online databases provide grant seekers, grant makers, researchers, policymakers, the media, and the general public with up-to-date information on grant funding and other nonprofit-related issues.

Through the Foundation Center’s Foundation Directory Online you can download profiles of foundations whose interests, priorities, and types of funding support match your funding needs. These profiles include the foundation’s address, website, contact person, funding priorities, award range, preferred method of initial approach, and much more.

To conduct your search, you can either subscribe to the directory (varying levels of subscriptions are available, beginning at as little as $19.95 per month) or use the Center’s website to locate a library near you that has a subscription to the directory.

When you start using the Foundation Center’s resources, you see several information fields for entering your keywords. Keep it simple. If you’re looking for money to provide housing for the homeless, first search for “housing” and screen the results. For the second search, type in “homeless” and again screen the results, eliminating duplicate funders found in the first search.

This search approach yields far more potential grant sources than typing in a search string made of two or more words. Be sure to check the box to exclude foundations that don’t accept unsolicited grant proposals to save yourself considerable time and disappointment.

To find out more about researching foundation or corporate funding sources located outside the United States, visit Funders Online, the European Foundation Centre’s website. German is the predominant language on the homepage, but English links aren’t hard to find.

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