Finding Available Grants
Grant funding is not a reliable source of money and shouldn’t be counted on to cover an organization’s basic costs. However, it can be a good way to fund a new project or develop a new service. The key is to find foundations that are a good match for your organization – that is, that are interested in the same goals, target audience, geographic location and/or funding amount as you. Here are some strategies for finding your match:
- Visit the Foundation Center website. This website contains detailed information about thousands of funders. For free, you can use the Foundation Finder to look up foundations in your area, but this will only provide basic contact information and a little financial information. With this information, you may be able to do a web search to learn more details about the foundation’s funding interests, geographic limitations, previous grants, funding deadlines, etc. But this will only work with foundations big enough to have a website. Another option is to go to the library at any branch of Ohio University. OU pays a subscription to the Foundation Center to have access to the much more detailed information available in their Foundation Database Online. It’s easy to use and allows you to search for funders by many different fields, including where they are located, where they fund, what types of projects they are interested in funding, etc. This resource can also be accessed at the Regional Nonprofit Alliance office, and staff can even show you how to use it.
- Search for local funding options. For new and/or very small organizations, local funders are usually the best bet. Because they are nearby, they may be willing to take a risk on a project that a more distant group would deem too risky or small. To find local foundations, check the Ohio Donors Forum membership map. You can also review the annual report or website of related organizations in your area for a list of their funders. Large employers in your region may have their own corporate giving program or participate in one run by a parent company or you can talk to your local community foundation about ear-marked donated funds (usually called donor-advised funds) that might be a good fit with your mission.
- Be realistic. Once you have identified a few foundations that seem like they might be a good fit, carefully read all the information available about them. Double-check that you are a good fit based on their stated criteria and the types of grants they’ve given recently. Even if a foundation says it gives nationally, you shouldn’t apply if it is located in Los Angeles and 9 out of 10 of its last grants went to projects in California. Similarly, if your budget is much smaller or much larger than the average grant offered by a foundation, it isn’t a good fit. Finally, many foundations say that they sometimes fund special projects outside their normal criteria to respond to a particularly pressing unmet need. It is not a good idea to assume that your project will be the one they select for this special attention. Completing a grant application takes considerable time – make sure you only apply to organizations that are a good fit in every way with your project.