Your organization is thinking about applying for a particular grant and is not sure the grant would be a good fit. So, what do you do? One word: research. The purpose of research is to discover knowledge that will provide you with the answers you need to move forward with a potential grant application. Researching potential grantmakers is an essential part of the grant development process.
What is Grant Research
Grant research requires strategy and effort in order to identify potential funders. Several criteria and/or steps should be followed to help you determine if your organization can submit a compelling and competitive grant proposal based on the grantmaker funding criteria. In order to start applying for grants, it’s critical that you find grants you qualify for. If you are good at researching and narrowing down your list of potential funders, you can continue to streamline the process and focus on strong potential funders to increase your chance of funding. Here’s a list of action items to help get you started:
1 – Determine your needs – Look at the organization and determine what needs have to be met. This also affects your application because organizations want to know exactly how you plan on using their money.
2 – Create your criteria list – Just as funders have eligibility requirements, your organization should use a list of criteria to focus on and narrow down the potential funder list. You can include geographical scope, funding history, and the average grant award, etc.
3 – Make sure you meet the grant eligibility requirements – When reviewing potential funders, make sure you keep track of the requirements and qualifications that may prove or deem your organization is ineligible to apply. If need be, reach out to the potential funder with questions.
Remember when you had to go to the library to look at grant information on microfilm? Well, some of us do! Using grant research tools effectively allows you to identify lists of organizations in one spot! You can use websites like Foundation Directory (Candid) or GrantStation, or Grants.gov for government opportunities, and databases like Instrumentl to further hone your search methods. You can search through thousands of foundations with a variety of criteria/filters like focus areas, past recipients, and geographical location.
Based on the predetermined funding focus areas, we conduct in-depth research to generate potential funding opportunities through various proactive and refined search tools. We have access to over 85,000 grant-making agencies in the United States, including the Federal Government through one of the tools we like to use: Instrumentl. Using a proprietary scoring rubric that we developed, we objectively review and score each potential funder to determine if they are a good fit to proceed with applying for a grant opportunity. Some of the key areas we focus on are:
- Geographic region of funding. Depending on the client and their mission, we search locally first and then expand outward like ripples in a lake when a fishing line is silently cast.
- Field of Work (Types of programs funded) match
- Average grant amount
- Due date
Knowing how to research, identify, and match funding resources to meet specific needs is a competency every grant writer should have and continue to build on. To get through the grant cycle, research is critical in the process to get to the next step of finding credible and positive grant opportunities that will ultimately lead to grant funding for your organization. Though there is no right or wrong method, having a process and strategy in place will help save you a lot of time and wasted efforts.