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So, you have decided you want to apply for grant funding. But where do you start? How do you find the right grants for your organization?

Finding and applying to grants is a time consuming process. You want to make sure that you are allocating your resources as efficiently as possible. You want to have a strong chance of winning an award before you even being the work.

We’ve put together a checklist of questions and considerations to review before you decide to pursue a grant application.

Why Do You Need A Grant?

Think about what you want to accomplish with grant funding. Be very clear about the population you will serve and the deliverables you will provide. It is a mistake to seek funding and then try and figure out what you will do with it. Don’t build programs around dollars. Instead, seek dollars that will support the programs and projects you are passionate about maintaining or creating.

Define Your Grant Search Keywords

What are the keywords and phrases that are relevant to the work you do and/or the problems your organization solves? For instance, are you working to make sure children don’t go hungry? Your list might include food insecurity, child nutrition, poverty, etc. Make a list of the terms that best represent your field and services. You’ll use this to guide your research.

Organize Your Team to Effectively Search for Grants

You are about to encounter a tremendous amount of information. Set yourself up for success in advance. Are you a fan of spreadsheets? Create a simple template for yourself that includes information such as funder name, website, contact info, etc. You’ll likely add columns to this as you go, but if you take the time to do this now, you won’t find yourself struggling to remember which information you’ve already seen and what is new. Spreadsheets give you hives? Use what works for you. Just make sure you have a system of some type that tracks basic information so you’re not trying to make sense of scribbled notes later.

Search Online Grant Resources and Databases for Opportunities

Whether you are looking for federal grants, state, county and municipal grants, or private grants, there is a wealth of information available to you. There are both fee-based subscription services and free resources for obtaining information on available funding. A general Google search for “grant funding” yields over 293 million results. This is where the list of keywords and phrases you’ve created will help you to narrow the scope of your search. A few good places to start include:

The Foundation Center

The Grantsmanship Center


Grant Station


Perform An Intensive Analysis on The Grants & Their Foundations

If you’ve done some online research and/or utilized one of the many grant directories out there, now is the time to learn more about the prospective funders you’ve identified. The most important question you need answered is this. Are their areas of interest a match for the work you do or want to be doing? You do not want to be in the business of creating programs that aren’t aligned with your mission. Find the folks who are excited about what you do. They are the people you want to partner with.

Additional Considerations for Grant Applicants

Before you jump into building your grant application, consider these additional questions: Are there any stipulations about geographic areas they fund?

  • Are grant submissions by invitation only or open to anyone?
  • What is the average sized grant they award?
  • Who have they funded in the past?
  • What specifically are they looking to fund now?


If you’ve gotten this far, you now have a clear sense of what purpose grant funding will serve for your organization. You’ve chosen keywords and phrases that are relevant to your field, you’ve identified a list of potential funders, and you know the questions to ask to determine if a funder is a potential match. You’re ready to start thinking about grant writing!

Heeren Content & Strategy offers fundraising support and grant compliance consulting services for nonprofits. Schedule your free analysis today!

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