The Perfect Match: Tips for Finding the Right Grant
Updated: Mar 9, 2019
One of the most challenging aspects of writing a grant application is finding the right grant to apply for. More and more frequently, funders want to develop a partnership with non-profit organizations and work with them for longer stretches of time. This means simply applying for any available grant isn’t an effective grant seeking strategy; grant seeking requires research, organization, and in some cases a bit of luck.
Below are some tips I’ve learned to help the grant seeking process go as smoothly as possible. Hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me!
1. Sign up with a grant database. Acting as grant specific search engines, they can drastically cut down the time you spend researching grants. Some like GetEdFunding are free while others like Foundation Directory Online and GrantStation require a paid subscription, so take your budget into consideration when researching which to go with.
2. Schedule time monthly for grant seeking. Available grants and open application periods change frequently. Most funders give at least 1 month to apply, so if you schedule time each month to search for grants you'll stay on top of any new grants that pop up and still have time to apply for them.
3. Narrow grants by location. Before you even bother looking at the focus area of a funder, look at the location they fund. Some funders work nationwide, while others only work within a certain region or city. Searching by location first saves you the time and trouble of applying only to realize your organization doesn’t exist in or serve the target location.
4. Research the funder’s focus area. English language can leave room open for interpretation, so it’s important to understand the funder’s definition of their focus areas. One funder may consider environmental sustainability conserving green areas, while another may consider it to be changing policy or infrastructure.
5. Review the application process. Each funder has their own application process. Some are simple and only require filling out a 1-2 page form. Others are more complex with a 10+ page form, training sessions, evaluations, etc. Look up the funder’s procedures to make sure your organization can keep any commitments they require.
6. Find past winners. This may not always be possible, but if the funder announces past winners consider looking into them. What projects were funded? How was that organization's story told? This will give you an idea of what the funder is looking for.
7. Contact the funder with questions. After you’ve researched the grant (but before you actually start applying), contact the funder with any questions you may have. Whether you need clarification on an application question or think you may be an exception to their guidelines, funders are happy to help you navigate their application/guidelines/procedures. Doing so will ensure you apply to a grant you are a great match with, and begin building a relationship that may last for years to come.
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