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  • Writer's pictureRachel Niemczyk

Grant Search Resources at Your Local* Library

Image by Moini from i2Clipart

Want to find grants to help your fundraising efforts, but don’t know where to begin? You may be surprised to find out that your local* library can be a good place to start.

I know I was.

Several weeks ago on LinkedIn I saw a post about 3 research workshops available to the public at County College of Morris’ library to help individuals and nonprofits with their grants. As someone who believes in continuous professional development I immediately signed up for them . . . and that was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

In the first workshop - Research Tools to Help Small Business Owners - I learned about Reference USA and valued what I learned about using it to find potential donors so much I made a blog post about it.

The second workshop - Searching the Online Foundation Center Databases for Grants for Nonprofits - taught the class how to use Candid’s Foundation Directory Online (FDO) to find grants. We explored the database to learn information about grant funders and grant recipients like:

  • How much money a past recipient received.

  • What that funding was used for.

  • What focus areas the funder gives to most.

  • What states the funder gives too most.

The final workshop - Finding Grants for Individuals - was on a product I wasn’t aware existed: Candid’s Foundation Grants to Individuals. Another grants database, this one focuses on grants for artists, scholars, and researchers. In that database you can find grants by categories including, but not limited to:

  • Type of funder (public or private).

  • Type of support (cash, apprenticeship, in-kind, etc.).

  • Individual attributes (gender, ethnicity, location, medium, etc.).

These were things I expected to learn at these workshops. What I didn’t expect, but am so grateful for, is what I learned next.

Public libraries can/do subscribe to these Candid databases. Whether it’s a city, county, or college's public library, they allow the public to access these databases, free of charge.

This means, if you need to start searching for grants, but don’t have the funds to subscribe just yet, you can go to the Find Us page on Foundation Center’s website and look to see if there is a Funding Information Network near you. (That’s their code name for public libraries with access to the database.) Find one that’s close enough to you, and you can go there, free of charge, to access grant databases like FDO and Grants to Individuals.

But wait! There’s more!

Libraries that subscribe usually have a librarian on staff who is associated with FDO and can teach you how to better use the database, improve your chances of finding grants with boolean searching, or direct you to other resources that can help with your search.

Case in point? Candid’s Foundation Center used to create books that enclosed the grants information contained in their online database. They don’t anymore, but the kicker is those books had more detailed information than the online database. So, if your library still has them available, you can use those books to learn more about a grant and how well your organization aligns with it, then look up the funder in the online database to see if they still offer it.

If you’d rather view current books, other companies offer consolidated grant databases in book form on specialized demographics (ex. Women or Native Americans). These are more recent and can show grants that aren’t available in the FDO. (Which can make you wonder about how efficient the technology is, but that’s a debate for another article.)

So the next time you need to start looking for grants consider consulting your local* library. You just may luck out and hit a goldmine of grant information that can help you get started.

Do you have any suggestions of other grant searching resources available at public libraries? Leave a comment below.

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Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next week with another article!


*How local is local? That’s debatable. I’m not a Morris County resident and drove about 45 minutes to reach their library. Your mileage may vary (literally) at what you consider local. Take that into consideration when looking for a Funding Information Network near you.

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