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Nearly every charity, nonprofit or social enterprise is eligible for at least a few grants. Writing and submitting proposals can be incredibly time-consuming! That is why it is very important to make sure you spend time researching and identifying the best opportunities first.

How do you find grants, however? Where do you look for those best opportunities for your particular project or charitable cause? 

Here we try to help you understand what your options are to find the best grants.  

how and where to find grants - grants file folder

Grants.gov for Federal Grant Listings

If you want to see what is available from the US federal government, by law all agencies have to list opportunities on Grants.gov.  You can search by agency, by keyword, or by opportunity on the site. Agencies often publish information on their own websites in addition.

For more information on how to use Grants.gov, see our article here

Candid Resources to Find Grants 

Candid.org is a conglomerate that has pooled together resources from a number of different philanthropy and grant resources. The biggest names under their new auspices are Philanthropy News Digest (PND), Guidestar, and Foundation Directory. All three can be used for free yet some have deeper user experiences are for paid members. Here is a brief synopsis of how you can use each of the different tools to find grants. 

  • Philanthropy News Digest (PND) publishes Requests for Proposals (RFPs) from different foundations, organizations, and public entities across the United States on a regular basis. You can search the opportunities by subject/sector or by keyword. Philanthropy News Digest. 
  • Foundation Directory Online (FDO) is the most comprehensive database of foundation funders in North America. It has vital information on over 232,000 family foundations, corporate foundations, and other registered giving vehicles. Free information is limited, but you can sign up for a monthly or annual paid membership at different levels for deeper insights and the option to search through information. 
  • Guidestar has tax information on every charity in the United States. By looking through an organization’s IRS 990 tax return, you can see to whom exactly they have given over the years, how much they have given, and sometimes what their guidelines are for submitting a request for funding

Also read: 10 Books to Read to Become a Better Fundraiser

Other Free Directories for Grant Information

If you are in the United States working on projects in the United States, use basic Google searches to see what pulls up for your area. This is really the best way to search for relevant RFPs and information. 

Pull up information on your area’s community foundations and donor-advised trusts. You can also try basic searches such as “grant funding for after-school programs”. You will likely be pleasantly surprised at the like-minded individuals and organizations who have already published lists of potential grants for you!

If you are working in international development, there are a few good places to access current grant information. 

  • Global Innovation Exchange is a collaborative platform from a  number of different private and public sector entities. Anyone can search through hundreds of active RFPs and grant opportunities aimed at helping nonprofits and social enterprises move forward their initiatives supporting the Global Goals. You can search by location or by keyword.
  • Bond is a United Kingdom based organization whose aim is to help those working in international development network together and access resources. It has a fairly comprehensive database of open grants for a variety of international development activities.
  • Terra Viva Grants Directory publishes information on grants available for agriculture, environment, natural resources, and energy on an international level. The site is free to use and posts regular updates. 

Budget Search Engines for Grants

  • Funds for NGOs has a good directory considering its price, which at the time of this publishing was $99.99 a year. You can search donor agencies in your country, anywhere in the world. They send you updates via email as well. If you are working in international development, this could be a viable and fairly inexpensive option if your free searches are not pulling up the donor list you like.
  • GrantStation cost $139 for an annual subscription at the time of this publication. They have a fairly large database of open grants and opportunities, with a focus on funding in North America. You can likely find funders easier this way than searching for free and will likely find ones that you would otherwise miss. 
  • GrantWatch lists over 5,000 active opportunities across a wide range of funders, from local governments to large institutional foundations. You can pay for a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual subscription. At the time of this writing, the annual price was $199.

Also read: Learn from Grant Writers’ Hindsight

Grant Search Engines with a High Cost – Are They Worth It?

There are other options out there to pay for information, or to pay for a grants specialist to gather information for you. Most of them are somewhat costly, however, especially for a fledgling charity or nonprofit with few resources. One of the best is Instrumentl. The service costs $88 a month, but it can save hours of time on searching and help you find the best resources. They have a free trial period. 

Otherwise, the opinion of this career grant writer is that the high-cost services are not worth it if you are a small agency or an individual fundraiser working for a smaller charity. Most funders who want to be contacted publish their opportunities. That means that the search engines that are generally available, for free, will pick up the opportunities for you. 


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