Finding the Right Match



“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” When it comes to getting your next project funded, or keeping your nonprofit afloat for the next 12 months, the task ahead may indeed feel like a journey of a thousand miles. The first phase of that journey consists of finding the right funders. According to the Fall 2017 State of Grantseeking Report, one of the most frequent challenges to grantseeking is researching and finding mission-specific grants. This article will explore some resources to help you tackle this challenge and take the first step on the road to grantseeking success.

Looking at the Big Picture – Create a Strategy

Before diving right into the funder research, it’s a good idea to take a step back and come up with an overall strategy for your quest. Who will be responsible for different tasks within the grantseeking process? How can you develop a systematic approach to researching funders?

  1. Establish a grant team
    The article entitled “You Need a Grant Team,” published on the CharityChannel Press website, explains what a grant team is, who should be on a grant team, and what a grant team does. According to the article, grant professionals “need to interact with a wide variety of (their) colleagues to optimize (their) success and minimize (their) stress levels.” This article can help you lay the groundwork for developing a formal or informal grant team, and determining the specific responsibilities of team members.
  2. Create a systematic approach to grant research
    GrantStation’s CEO, Cynthia Adams, has put together a number of resources to help grant professionals create a framework for their grant research. Ms. Adams’ free recorded webinar entitled “Bold is Gold: Conducting Funding Research,” which is based on her “Bold is Gold” primer, explores ways in which organizations can become bolder in their work and take dynamic steps to spur research on funding opportunities. Another useful resource, available to GrantStation Members, is the “Grantseeking Calendar” series of articles, which guides readers through the process of building a grantseeking calendar for their nonprofit organizations. These articles focus on how to design and effectively use a grant decision matrix, simplify grants research, and create project specific grantseeking strategies. 

Gathering Information – Research Grantmakers

Now that you have established a grant team and a grant research framework, it’s time to identify potential funders. A simple Google search may turn up some possibilities, but the Internet is vast, and time is precious. Below are some resources to help you find the appropriate grantmakers quickly.

  1. Get access to a centralized database of funder information
    Investing in GrantStation Membership is a great place to start researching potential funders. GrantStation profiles a wide range of funders that accept unsolicited requests, including foundations, government funders, corporate giving programs, faith-based grantmakers, association grant programs, and giving circles. While other subscription grant databases do exist, what differentiates GrantStation is their careful research and narrative approach, which allows them to include nuanced details about each grantmaker’s funding priorities, geographic focus, and application procedure. The website is organized geographically and by type of funder, and includes the following databases: US Charitable, US Federal, US State Government, Canadian Charitable, Canadian Government, and International Charitable.
  2. Map out potential funders
    If you are interested in seeing who is giving in your location, there are a number of interactive mapping tools to help you find the information you need. The Community Foundation Atlas enables users to pinpoint community foundations in a specific country or region by using an interactive map or by searching a comprehensive directory. For those in the United States, the Council on Foundations has created the Community Foundation Locator to help find community foundations across the country.

Narrowing Down Your Search – Delve Into the Details of Potential Funders

Now that you have your list of potential funders in hand, you may be looking for additional details about them in order to narrow down your search. Here are some additional resources to help you get the lowdown.

  1. Go beyond the funder’s website
    If you are researching a foundation located in the United States, GuideStar is a useful resource that provides information about every IRS-registered nonprofit organization’s mission, legitimacy, impact, reputation, finances, programs, transparency, governance, and more. A look into a grantmaker’s most recent tax return, available on GuideStar, may help you to get a clearer picture of the types of organizations and programs they fund. Access to the site is free, but registration is required.  
  2. See what others are saying
    Choosing a product or service in the modern age invariably involves reading reviews from other customers. Why should grantseeking be any different? GrantAdvisor is a relatively new website which allows grant applicants, grantees, and others to share their first-hand experiences working with funders through authentic, real-time reviews and comments. So before you reach out to a potential funder, you can gain some insights from organizations that have worked with them in the past.
Action steps you can take today
  • Click on the links above to learn more about the resources discussed in this article.
  • Visit GrantStation’s Pathfinder website and use the Find Your Path tool to locate additional grant research resources.