Locating the appropriate funding sources for your project can be the most challenging part of the grant application process. Finding the right match is not always so easy. Identifying potential grant funders takes both time and research. With more educators, researchers, nonprofit agencies and human services organizations competing for grant monies, grant applicants must find funders who share the same goals and mission. Keys to successfully securing a grant include knowing just where to look for the money and then communicating a compelling need for the program for which you are requesting funds.
Contact organizations in your community with a reputation for raising funds for worthwhile causes. Local grant funding is often easier to secure than government funds. Civic organizations, fraternal clubs, local businesses and the district divisions of nationwide companies are practical places to start.
Search online databases to find federal and state government grant opportunities (see Resources). You can search via categories of funding activities, from a list of agencies offering grant opportunities, eligibility or via other specific criteria.
Review the details about private and public foundation grants you get from online grant directories (see Resources). Link directly to a funder’s website to learn more about the criteria for grant applicants and information on how to apply. Directories offer information about funders and grant opportunities offered across the nation.
Find a full listing of federal programs in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) (see Resources). These programs are available to state and local governments, both public and private profit and nonprofit organizations and institutions, specialized groups and individuals. The CFDA contains detailed program descriptions for more than 2,000 federal assistance and grant programs. Search by keyword, program number or agency.
Join your local Chamber of Commerce. Along with helping to promote your business, the chamber is a valuable resource for information about small business grants. The chamber may even offer its own business grants. The local Small Business Association office is another resource for locating business grants.
Call or write to your senators and representatives. Sometimes state legislators can get money to fund special projects in their districts. Contact them to inquire whether your state has any special funds available and how to apply.
The federal government, state governments and private foundations are the major sources of grant funds.
Private foundation grants typically support nonprofit, charitable organizations that share a similar mission with the funding foundation or private donor.
It can take several months or up to one year to find out if a grant is awarded or if your proposal is rejected.