How Do You Find a Grant?

Not too long ago, grant writers had to rely on “hard copy” sources to research potential funders. That meant haunting libraries and buying expensive, quickly obsolete directories. Now, of course, a great deal of information in available on the Internet.

The first place to look for funders is usually close to home. Community foundations have been organized in many geographic areas. These foundations are supported through contributions by citizens, companies and other foundations.

There are probably private foundations in your area, as well, established by wealthy families to support local projects. You may find listings of these and other foundations in your library, or through your Chamber of Commerce.

Most large foundations have websites where you can learn about their organization, funding cycles, types of support and restrictions. Each website will usually include a downloadable application for funding.

Under federal law, all private foundations, every year, must file a Form 990-PF. This form is a public record, and it provides very useful information about the foundation’s finances, Board of Directors, and particularly which grants it has made during the previous year. If you identify a foundation as promising, be sure and read its 990-PF.

Local corporations are always a strong potential resource. Companies generally prefer to support projects where they have a high concentration of employees. If your city has major manufacturers, or company headquarters, or inventory centers, research the philanthropic goals of those companies.

Corporate websites usually provide information about their giving programs under the headings “Community” or “Community Involvement”. When a corporation has established its own foundation, the corporate website should provide a link to the foundation website.

If you discover your project is outside a local company’s usual parameters for grantsmaking, don’t give up. It may still be worthwhile approaching them if the project will be important to their employees or customers. Companies also like the visibility they gain when they underwrite local causes.

Don’t limit your research to local funders, of course. Contact companies whose corporate mission is in alignment with the goals of your project. For example, Whole Foods is a chain of natural foods grocery stores. They like to support (among others) sustainable agriculture programs. Look for foundations known for supporting certain kinds of projects.

Government grants are available through the federal, state or provincial, or local governments. In the United States, a complete listing of federal grants appears in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, available at local libraries. Similar listings are available in other countries.

Your elected officials are a good resource for information about government grants. In particular, the office of your local Congressman will happily provide you with details of programs that make grants in your area of interest. For state grants, the Office of the Governor usually maintains information they make available to citizens. On a local level, you can contact the Office of the Mayor or City Manager, as well as County Commissioners or Board of Supervisor members.

If you would like to learn how to write grants for a community project, or to start a new career as a Certified Grant Writer, check out our Grants Training Classes at:

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