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  • Writer's pictureRachel Niemczyk

Not Subscribed to a Grants Database? Here's How You Can Still Find Grants

Updated: Mar 8, 2019

Image by TheUjulala on Pixabay

Subscribing to a grant database is one of the easiest and fastest ways to find potential funders. They give access to hundreds, if not thousands, of grant applications, and the various search filters mean you can tailor the results based on your geographic region, focus area, participant demographics, etc.

However if you don’t have access to a grant database (maybe you’re just starting a career as a grant writer or your organization doesn’t currently have the funds) how do you go about finding grants?

1. Research free grant databases. Although most well-known databases require a paid subscription, there are some databases like that are free. These tend to focus on grants for educational programs, but can be a great way to get started.

2. Go to The Grantsmanship Center, and look up the biggest donors in your state. Larger donors tend to have multiple grants with different focus areas, so there is a chance you may find one that is aligned with your focus area.

3. Go to your favorite search engine and type in “top giving foundations in [your state].” This will give you several search results with links to donors in a variety of focus areas. Comb through the results until you find a donor that aligns with your program and interests.

4. Alternatively, type into your search engine “grants, [the subject area you are focusing on], [the state you operate in].” Depending on your focus area this will yield a grab bag of results you have to comb through, but they may be more closely aligned with your organization’s interests.

5. Research the bank(s) your organization uses. Banks often award grants to programs that support the communities they serve, and are more inclined to support an organization in their community that does business with them.

6. Research and/or contact the state department relevant to your organization’s focus area. (ex.Department of Health) States give out several grants to throughout the year to nonprofits, so you’ll want to ensure you’re on the mailing list when they open up their RFPs.

7. If your organization has a board of directors, ask if you can attend a board meeting. At the meeting bring up the project you want to fund and ask if they have any suggestions. They may know organizations you can research (or even reach out to those organizations on your behalf!).

8. Look up press releases or news articles from organizations similar to yours. Oftentimes these organizations publicize the funding support they have received from a foundation/corporation, and you can learn which organizations have grants from them.

9. If you find a grant that you have missed the deadline for, contact that foundation. Explain that you just learned of their grant and look forward to applying during the next grant cycle—then ask if they have any recommendations of funders that are currently accepting applications you could apply to in the meantime.

10. Research foundation giving records like the ones at Ford Foundation and Lumina Foundation. You can see if the foundation has previously funded a program similar to yours, and often get the name of the grant those funds were distributed by.

11. Last but not least, look up corporations related to your interest area. They usually have grants that, while difficult to find information on, can be a great fit for your organization. If they don’t have a grant, check to see if the CEO has a private foundation you can apply to instead.

All of these approaches will take a bit more time than if you have access to a grant database obviously. But if you’re willing to put in the time and effort, they are great opportunities to find grants.

Do you know other ways to find grants without a grants database subscription? Share them in the comments below so we can all learn from each other!

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

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