Grant Research Tools

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Have you found it challenging to navigate the many grant research tool options? Unless your nonprofit has a multi-person development shop with dedicated staff members doing research and writing proposals, grant research will always pose a challenge. How can you make sure you’re finding all the grants you’re eligible for, and exclude the grants you have little chance of winning?

There are several different grant research tools with different strengths and weaknesses and dramatically different costs. To help nonprofits navigate the confusing world of grant research databases, we explored some of the available tools.

In the chart below, we compare a few of them to help readers hone in on which one might be the best match for their organization. We don’t assess the quality of support, "extra" features (such as calendars or grant tracking), or educational resources offered by each organization. However, this chart does take a hard look at the databases themselves and notes our opinion of their strengths and weaknesses.

This resource also does not address how to read foundation 990s or qualify, cultivate, approach, or steward funder prospects; if you need that kind of education, you could tap into educational programs offered by state associations of nonprofits, the Foundation Center, or GrantStation, among others. Make sure you check out the resources on our Fundraising page as well.

Before you tackle the chart, make sure you’ve connected with your state association of nonprofits! Most state associations offer educational programs, links to state-specific grant databases, and member discounts on grant research tools, and some send regular grant alerts to their members. The member discount offered by state associations on new subscriptions to Foundation Directory Online, for example, can easily exceed the cost of member dues, and the benefits to your organization – in capacity-building, in connecting with others in your sector, and in amplifying your voice to advocate for the sector in your state – are tremendous.

One other way to locate prospective funders is to check the member list of your regional association of grantmakers. Membership lists published by these organizations often include links to foundation websites – or, you can search on the internet for specific funders and/or find their IRS Form 990s using the FDO Quick Start widget at the bottom of this page

This chart is a work in progress. We welcome your feedback about the chart. (Note that the National Council of Nonprofits does not provide assistance with grant research itself.) Click on the image below to download the chart.

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