Whether you’re writing your first or your one thousandth grant, chances are you have a handy list of resources nearby to help with a multitude of issues: research on prospective donors, data analysis about your organization’s programs, organizational charts, and where the heck to find grants.
For me, the last point rings true almost always, especially when I’m writing a grant on behalf of a nonprofit organization I’ve never worked with in the past.
Over time, I’ve collected a list of helpful sites and resources that I’ve used in the past, and I want to share them with you. You’ve probably heard of several of them, but I think I’ve got some good ones up my sleeve that can help bring your grant-writing game to the next level.
Guidestar is a search engine for all IRS-registered (501 c 3) nonprofit organizations of all sizes, including foundations. It’s mission is “to revolutionize philanthropy by providing information that advances transparency, enables users to make better decisions, and encourages charitable giving.”
Essentially, it’s the Google of nonprofits – it allows you to search for the most up-to-date information offered in regards to an organization’s financials, programs, board of directors and staff, and other certifications and credentials. There is a free and a paid version, and as is expected, more details and in-depth information are offered with the paid subscription.
I’ve used Guidestar (the free version) countless times to find basic information like where the foundation located, what kind of projects and programs it focuses it’s efforts on, and financials. It’s one of the easiest ways to find a prospective funder’s Form 990, which I’ve found to be an invaluable tool when searching for past grant recipients (including amount and projects funded). It makes it very easy to eliminate the non-contenders, and at least begin a list of prospects to do further research on.
The Foundation Directory is one of the best resources any grantseeker can subscribe to, but it definitely comes at a cost.
It boasts itself as the largest foundation grant directory in the world, with access to more than 120,000 foundations and corporate donors, details about 3 million recent grants, and information about more than 500,000 key decision makers.
The paid version (a minimum of $20/month) allows any grantseeker to identify potential funders based on geographic location, fields of interest in grantmaking, recent grants (including totals and projects funded), ways to contact these organizations, and much, much more.
If you’re a nonprofit organization seeking a comprehensive directory and willing to spend a little money to get it, then this would be my number one recommendation for you. My successes in grants have been in large part thanks to the Foundation Directory and it’s ability to really narrow down the playing field, allowing me to focus my efforts on perfecting the art of grant writing instead of spending all of my time looking for these potential funders.
Yes, you read that correctly. Google is, and will probably always be, my biggest go-to tool. Once you figure out how to sort through all of the… er… stuff, using Google is any grantseeker’s best friend. It’s much easier to open up your internet browser and just type in the name of the organization you’re researching than to open up any other kind of directory and go through the various steps to get to the same information. Don’t get me wrong, the directories and registers are beyond helpful when you’re doing a broad search for potential funders, but sometimes the best and most accurate information you’ll be able to find will be on an organization’s actual website.
Are you interested in federal grants? They are often much larger financial awards than foundations can offer, but they are also much more competitive and tedious to apply for. Check out grants.gov for information on these grants.
Here, you can sift through federal grants offered by categories, agencies, and eligibilities. These grant opportunities tend to be very specific, though, and oftentimes only open to organizations by invite, Before a nonprofit delves into researching about these opportunities on a categoric scale, I’d recommend researching by eligibility first. This should hopefully take the guessing game out of this process.