Moving through the maze of grant opportunities can be a daunting challenge. There are so many organizations, with varying criteria, and new opportunities pop up all the time. Anyone who has worked on grants knows it can take as much time to research eligible grant applications as it can take to apply for them. It’s important to keep an eye on new opportunities as the reward can be well worth the search. Here are some tips to help you find the right grants for your organization.
Think Local… Like, really local.
Start with your board. Many organizations neglect to tap into the networks of their boards. Your board members are probably some of the people most connected and loyal to your organization, who volunteer their time, talent, and treasure. They want to be helpful. Many board volunteers sit on other boards and committees. When is the last time you asked if they knew of any opportunities?
United Way and other community funders. Most people think of the United Way and similar organizations as only conduits for workplace giving. However, many of these community fundraising organizations have open grant cycles bi- or semi-annually. These nonprofits can also spearhead efforts to organize volunteer time or in-kind support that can benefit your organization.
Kiwanis Clubs, Rotary Clubs, and other community membership groups. These local affiliation groups, and ones like them, are made of community members dedicated to making the world a better place. Many of the older, more established clubs have foundations, restricted to funding initiatives in the communities in which they were established.
Look to your Peers. Yes, we all do it! Look at websites, annual reports, and social media to see which foundations have given to your peers. And even though it might seem counter-intuitive, meet with other fundraisers and grant writers to see if they have any ideas. Most funders do not give multiple years in a row to the same applicant. Many times your peers are more than willing to share their success with you.
Local Nonprofit Affinity Groups. Local membership and professional development groups such as the Association of Fundraising Professionals, nonprofit education centers, and others, will boost grant opportunities from time to time. Membership sometimes required.
Regional, county, and statewide.
Community Foundations. Whether city, county, state or regional, community foundations are comprised of charitable giving funds established by generous donors. The community foundations collect fees and draw from their endowment to create pools of available-to-spend grant dollars. Most have open grant cycles 2 or 4 times a year.
Corporative Giving. Who are the largest corporate employers in your region? Many businesses who have made their money in your community have foundations or giving programs to give back to the community. Check their websites for foundation information, and if so, check their 990s for previous grant history. Don’t see any mention? Try to find their marketing/public relations contact and inquire.
Think digitally… the future is here to stay.
The internet has given us so many tools to make our lives easier. There are many industry tools to research opportunities, though all have an associated membership cost. Two of WGW’s favorites are Foundation Directory Online and GrantScape.
Foundation Directory Online. Who remembers when the Foundation Directory was a book? Now the resource is online, with information on thousands of funders, including corporate foundations and U.S. federal agencies, updated weekly. Filters and search tools give you access to grant histories which means you can spend a lifetime seeing the types and amounts of grants awarded, all with a few clicks!
GrantScape. According to its website, GrantScape is the largest and broadest grants opportunities database available. In addition to its search functions, GrantScape also has workspace functions that can help you manage, track, and analyze your opportunities, as well as set up alerts for new grants opportunities.
Don’t get overwhelmed by the possibilities! Williams Grant Writing (WGW) has the team, time, skills, and systems in place to act as your grant writing partner. WGW can help you research funding opportunities, review draft applications, apply for the grant funding, and help you stay on top of reporting and deadlines. WGW has a proven track record of connecting nonprofits to funding. Contact us today to see how we can help!