Happy Valentine’s Week, Nonprofit Warriors! We couldn’t find a box of digital chocolates but are sharing the love with a few funder-finding ideas, especially for the small or start-up nonprofit.
While corporate, family and community foundation grants can play a strong supporting role in your overall fundraising plan, locating those revenue opportunities can be challenging. Subscription rates for the most useful grant databases are often out of reach for young organizations, but take heart (see how I did that?), there are research options available.
Now, on to the hunt! A great place to start is your local or regional nonprofit center or consortium, such as the ever-helpful Alliance for Better Nonprofits (ABN) in my beloved East Tennessee corner of the world. Like ABN, most nonprofit centers offer affordable sliding-scale memberships based on revenues, and benefits often include free access to grant research tools. If there is no nonprofit center close to you, contact your closest State Association of Nonprofits for help in finding resources.
Additionally, United Way, Community Shares, and similar organizations often provide training and resources to their member agencies. Some may maintain and share access to their own grant database subscription, but all can likely point you to other free or low-cost options.
One of the leading grant databases, Foundation Directory Online (FDO), is part of the impressive Candid portfolio of nonprofit resources. Candid’s Funding Information Network provides database access and other assistance at more than 400 U.S. locations, including libraries, community foundations, and nonprofit centers. Comprehensive and powerful, FDO is Redbird Strategic’s tool of choice when conducting research for our clients; but because it is so robust, we suggest taking advantage of any orientation provided before tackling your search. FDO, of course, is not the only research tool out there. This handy, downloadable chart from the National Council of Nonprofits provides a good overview of the most widely available databases, and don’t be shy about asking vendors about any free trial options.
Regardless of whether you are leveraging a free trial to conduct your search or accessing the tool at a shared site, the better prepared you are for your search, the more you’ll benefit from what are likely to be time-limited access windows. Like any fundraising “ask,” your best preparation is a solid case for support, both for your organization and any specific programs or projects for which you are seeking funding. Identifying funders interested in the who, what, how, why and where of your mission is supremely difficult if your organization has not yet fully answered those questions for itself. (For help, see our post, “Securing Nonprofit Grants: What You Need to Know.”)
Happy hunting, and happy Valentine’s Day to all you Nonprofit Warriors out there. Thanks for sharing the love every day to make your community and our world a better place!