Grants and Foundations Review (TM)
Tips, techniques, and news in the world of grantsmanship™
Volume 1, Issue 16
January 15, 2002

Finding Grants 101
By Cynthia M. Adams, Co-Editor

Grants can play a significant role in developing an organization. The key to securing grants, whether government or private, is to identify the right grantmaker for your project.

Doing a systematic search
There are five easy steps to grants research. If you do them ALL your success rate on securing grant dollars will increase dramatically.

Step 1. Begin with a literature search - which is more simplified now as more funders put announcements on the web. You will want to search a database (such as GrantStation or FC Search) as a first step. These databases will allow you to specify requirements and generate lists of local, regional, and national corporate and foundation grantmakers that are likely to fund your project. You will also want to identify (or eliminate the possibility of!) government sources for your project. Secure a copy of your local municipal directory in order to identify any local programs that might fund your project.

Step 2. Once you have accumulated a comprehensive list of potential grantmakers, write or email for their latest application guidelines and annual report. With federal and state sources, I like to ask for their application packet and a copy of the enacting legislation.

Step 3. Read through the materials as they arrive and eliminate those that obviously don't fit the proposed project. Your list will shrink considerably (don't worry, this is good!). One strong lead is worth twenty weak ones.

Step 4. Write out a brief description (one paragraph) about the project, and two or three lines describing your organization. Go through your list and note any specific questions you want to ask each grantmaker. Also note if there is any specific person to whom you should speak.

Step 5. Call the prospective grantmaker. This is the step people avoid, but it is by far the most important part of the entire funding search process. When you get the contact person on the telephone, let them know you will take only five to ten minutes of their time. Keep the discussion short and focused. Use your written descriptions from Step 4. After a few minutes of discussion you will have a fairly good idea if you should pursue this funding source.

Step 6. Do a final review of your prospective grantmakers. Drop those that won't work (file them for another project if appropriate). You should have a list of three to five solid leads. Incorporate these leads into a funding strategy for the overall project.

And now you can begin preparing grant requests!

This article is reprinted with permission from Grants and Foundations Review(tm), a free weekly electronic newsletter published by To subscribe, visit

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