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5 Tips for Grant Research

Updated: Apr 6

Embarking on grant research is a bit like getting ready to start dating. So, you're ready to put yourself out there? Fantastic! But what are you seeking in a funder? It's akin to listing the attributes, interests, and values important in a partner. Whether you're a faith-based non-profit looking for shared ideologies or opting for short-term corporate sponsorships, defining your needs, wants, and boundaries is crucial, just like in any relationship. Follow these tips to set yourself up for success:


1. Define your need: Clarify what you need money for to narrow your search and find funders aligned with your requirements. Ask yourself:

  •    How much money do we need?

  •    What is the purpose of the funds (equipment, construction, general operating, capacity building, program costs, etc.)?

  •    Who is our target audience (children, youth, elderly, animals, etc.)?

  •    When do we need the funds?

Being able to articulate your needs is absolutely crucial for successful grant writing.


2. Identify your tools: Several databases, like GrantStation, Foundation Directory, Foundation Search, and Instrumentl, can assist in finding funders and open grant opportunities. Choose based on your organization's needs and budget. Alternatively, consider hiring a consultant to prepare a curated list for you, especially if your team is new to grant writing or resource-strapped.


3. Set up a tracking system: Some funding databases offer built-in systems for tracking prospects. If not, you can create your own in Excel (check out our free Grant Research Tracker template). Keep notes on funders you've researched, create action items for your team, and keep a record of funders you’ve decided not to pursue. Good record-keeping will save time in the long run.


4. Create email and call templates: Unless the funder explicitly states they do not wish to be contacted, you can call or email them. Having boilerplate language ready will increase your efficiency. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time you reach out to a different funder, but make sure to adapt your email or call script with language that speaks more directly to your audience.


5. Be strategic: Don't apply for the first grant you find. Make a list of potential funders, then narrow down your focus. Prioritize opportunities you feel confident about and keep the others on the back burner.


Remember, always try to make contact with a funder before applying for a grant.

Speaking with a Program Officer will allow you to build a personal relationship with them and help you determine whether there is a strong alignment between your project and the foundation. Don’t be afraid to reach out to Program Officers at federal agencies, either! They are almost always willing to assist grant applicants in finding a good fit and providing technical assistance.


Need help getting started? Book an On-Demand Coaching Call or check out our Grant Research Package!


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