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Using the Internet to Find Grant Opportunities

There is no doubt that the Internet has opened up many amazing new avenues for nonprofit awareness and fundraising. We’ve talked about several of them right here in this blog—from raising money through online shopping malls to creating your own contests and auctions. Another incredible opportunity that has been created is the ability to find foundations and other entities that provide grant funding to nonprofits such as your own.

In the “old days,” finding the right funder took a whole lot more time and effort. It involved paying a small fortune for a print foundation directory or even going all the way to the library to spend the day with their most recent edition and a pocketful of dimes for the copy machine. Now it’s possible to do a great deal of grant research without ever even leaving your desk.

A few really helpful resources include:

Grants.gov is a major stop for any nonprofit, business, or individual seeking grant funding from the U.S. government. They are broken down according to category, and not only can you find the guidelines and deadlines on the site, but you can even submit an application for many of the grants available. The service is completely free.

The Foundation Center maintains a huge online database of grant-making organizations, as well as a wide variety of other really useful information, including foundations’ 990s. Much of the site is available through subscription only, but they boast access to 96,000 foundations and corporate donors. The data about each grant maker is quite extensive, as well.

GrantStation allows you to search their “Find-a-Funder” database for potential grants that fit your organization’s needs. There is a fee for service (they seem to be offering a major discount at the moment), but in addition to researching the funders, you are also able to get mentoring from the GrantStation staff. The database is updated twice weekly, and there is also a newsletter to help keep subscribers up-to-date.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy bills itself as “The Newspaper of the Nonprofit World.” One of the topics they cover regularly is grants. In fact, they also offer a subscription service that allows you access to their information on grant-making organizations. You can even fill in your specifications and be emailed whenever a grant is announced that meets your specific criteria. Of course, there’s other great information available through The Chronicle, too.

While each of these options is a potential starting point, most of them do require an organization to subscribe (the Foundation Center does offer a one-month subscription for those on a really tight budget). If you simply have no budget at all, you can still use the Internet to help you find possible funding opportunities, though. They key is to make your search terms fairly narrow, or you will be overwhelmed by the number of results you get.

Remember that geography is one of the most important factors that grant makers use in their decisions, so it can be very helpful to use that as one of your search criteria. Your organization’s focus will also be helpful. You may even want to narrow down your search even further by looking for only newly announced grants by adding in the month and/or year and the term “RFP” (request for proposal). Once you have a few possibilities, you can continue to use the Internet to research the funders by checking out their websites, looking for articles written about them, seeing who else they’ve funded, and finding out what other people have to say about them and their reputations.

There are amazing opportunities listed on the web, and there is certainly more than one way to access that information. If time is the most important factor, than one of the subscription services may be the best way to go. If money is a bigger hang up, then a manual Internet search might make more sense for you. Either way, you will be amazed at just how much information is available.
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