How to Find Sources for International Grant Funding

If your organization provides services in another country, you may be wondering where to look for grant opportunities to keep those programs running. One place to look is the U.S. government. You can also find out about opportunities from formal networks of grant makers outside the United States, such as the European Foundation Centre and Imagine Canada.

The U.S. government

Perhaps the first place to look for grant money to fund an international project is the U.S. Agency for International Development. This federal grant-making agency awards grants and contracts to organizations providing international programming in the following areas:

  • Agriculture and food security

  • Democracy, human rights, and governance

  • Economic growth and trade

  • Education

  • Environment and global climate change

  • Gender equality and women’s empowerment

  • Global health

  • Science, technology, and innovation

  • Water and sanitation

  • Working in crises and conflict

Other federal agencies that fund internationally include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • Department of Commerce

  • Department of State

  • Fish and Wildlife Service

  • National Institutes of Health

  • National Science Foundation

To find grant-funding opportunities available from federal agencies for international projects, head to Grants.gov, click the SEARCH GRANTS button at the top of the page, and type “international” into the Keyword(s) search box.

The European Foundation Centre

The European Foundation Centre (EFC), located in Brussels, Belgium, is an international membership association of foundations and corporate funders. Since its founding in 1989, the EFC membership has grown to more than 230 organizations, as well as 40 associates based around the world (including the United States). The EFC doesn’t give out grants, but it does provide some valuable information for organizations seeking international funding.

Check out the EFC. There you can find links to members and associates via the About the EFC tab. When you click a foundation name, you’re taken to the foundation’s website where you can review its grant-making process and find contact information. Better yet, all this information is available for free.

Always e-mail or call each funder to determine how to approach it with a funding request. Ask if the funder wants a letter of inquiry and/or a short hard-copy proposal. Also ask whether the funder has an electronic (e-grant) application process. Most importantly, ask what language is preferred for submitting grant documents and determine whether you’ll need a translator to help you navigate processes and protocol.

To access specific information about NGOs in a country, hover over the Our work tab, click the Resource centre link, and then click the Foundations in Europe button on the right-hand side of the page. From there you can click a country to receive an overview of the following:

  • What is the definition of “foundation”?: This section explains how the country in question defines a foundation.

  • Legal framework: Here you can read about the legal and fiscal framework for foundations within the country.

  • Number of foundations: This section shows you the total number of foundations in the country and the percent classified as public-benefit foundations (defined after this list).

  • Foundations’ pool of assets: Here you find the total number of assets on average per foundation, as well as the total combined assets for all foundations in the country.

  • Foundations’ total expenditure: This section shows you how much money the foundation has spent for projects and programs benefiting the public.

  • Employment and volunteering: This section tells you the total number of employees in the foundation. Employee groups are broken out into full-time, part-time, and volunteer.

  • Associations of foundations: Here you find names and links for any networks of foundations in the country.

  • Further reading: This section gives you links to the specific country’s foundation directory and other resource materials.

  • More on the sector: Here you can find links to other resources relevant to the NGO sector in the country.

Public-benefit foundations are purpose-driven, asset-based, nonprofit bodies that are independent of each other and separately constituted. This type of foundation focuses on areas ranging from social services, health, and education to science and the environment to arts and culture. Public-benefit foundations have established reliable sources of income, which enables them to plan and carry out work over the long term.

The EFC provides additional resources to international grant seekers via the Advice for grantseekers link (in the left-hand column) on the Resource centre page.

Imagine Canada

Imagine Canada is a national charitable organization whose cause is Canada’s charities and nonprofits. It operates Grant Connect, the new name for the organization’s Canadian Directory to Foundations and Corporations. Grant Connect is a subscription-based online database with information on every Canadian grant-making foundation and hundreds of corporate community-investment programs, plus government funding programs and American foundations willing to fund Canadian charities. A subscription ranges in price.

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