Finding grants for your nonprofit organization is a lot like shopping for a pair of jeans. They come in all shapes and sizes, require some self-reflection and can be an incredibly time-consuming process. And maybe it’s not your favorite thing to do.
Plenty of resources exist to find that perfect grant for your organization that has the style, flexibility and price tag you need – or maybe that’s the jeans. But here are a few resources to get you on your way to finding the necessary funding for your organization. It may require some sifting and searching on your part, but this will surely save you from those pesky grant-writing blues.
Square one on your mission to finding grants for your nonprofit starts here.
Not only is Grants.gov a place to find grants, but it’s also a place to educate yourself on how grants work and what they’re all about.
If you find a federal grant that interests your organization, you’ll need to go through the following stages:
- Pre-Award Phase
This is the phase where you’ll seek out new grants that are applicable to your organization and work toward submitting an application that matches the given criteria.
- Award Phase
The award phase occurs when federal agency staff members make decisions to grant your organization the funds to continue with a project.
- Post Award
While this seems like it should be the easiest phase of the grant process, it’s actually one of the most labor-intensive. The post-award phase involves implementing the grant that your organization has been awarded and actually documenting the progress of what your organization said they’d do. In order to succeed at the process, you’ll need to submit a report detailing both the financials and the program progress.
Make sure to fully utilize the educational aspects of Grants.gov. Search the site and sort by the newest or most relevant grants by sorting them into various categories.
The best place to start is a foundation that understands the work you’re doing. Search online for foundations in your area or try to meet funders through networking events in your community. If the marketing and storytelling you’ve been implementing in your community has been doing its job, foundations should already have some sort of understanding of how your organization operates. That helps give you a leg up in the funding world.
While this option seems to be the vaguest, it could have the most promise for your organization. People love to give locally because it helps stimulate their own economy and helps give back. So get out there, open your eyes and consider the possibilities happening in your own backyard.
This site could be suitable for your organization if it fits into one of the following (ample!) categories: universities, hospitals, government agencies, schools, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, research institutions and some small businesses and individuals.
That’s a ton of opportunity for your organization. Plus, this site adds new grants and archives old grants daily, ensuring you’re getting the most out of your time. Keep in mind, this is a paid option, and there are other paid options out there to consider. Start slow and determine if the return could be worth it for your organization.
Now you have the browsing power to at least begin your search into the grant world. Check them all out, see which resources work best for your organization and apply to the grants that matter.
Foundation Center – This site lets you browse over 2 million foundation and corporate grants for free. Filter and search by location, grant type, subject, recipient type and more. Useful tools like grant trend data reports and foundation profiles provide valuable context. Create a free account for saved searches, tracking, and email alerts on relevant grants for your nonprofit.
GrantStation – While pricier, GrantStation gives you robust search tools and custom alerts for finding new grants for your nonprofit. The extensive database is updated daily. Use calendar reminders for upcoming deadlines. Run statistical reports to identify your most fruitful funding sources. The premium features make it easier to spot and track relevant grants for your nonprofit.
Corporations/Foundations – Keep major national corporations in mind for grants for your nonprofit. Companies like Target, Google, and Walmart operate philanthropic foundations offering grants in key focus areas. Browse their websites for grant programs aligned with your nonprofit’s mission and work.
Nonprofit Support Orgs – Connecting locally with groups and community foundations can uncover grants for your nonprofit. Discuss funding opportunities for community programs. Partnering on grant proposals can increase your chances of securing funding together.
Your Network – Speaking with peers at other nonprofits, volunteers, donors, and partners can provide insider knowledge on potential funders and opportunities. Collaborating with others who share your focus makes your grant applications stronger. Personal outreach and relationships may get your foot in the door with a funder.
Searching far and wide using large databases, local networking, and personal connections will help uncover the most promising grants for your nonprofit. Cast a wide net in your pursuit of funding opportunities and be relentless in your efforts.
Our friends at Instrumentl put together a list of helpful websites for grantseekers you may want to check out as well.
Originally published 5.24.17—Updated 8.31.23