Billions of grant dollars are distributed through government, private foundation and corporate grantmakers every year. Knowing where to find available grants is the first step in tapping into this billion-dollar funding source. Most grantmakers have online searchable databases. You can access some of these online searchable databases for free. Some are fee-based.
There are five types of private foundations …
- community foundations,
- family foundations,
- private independent foundations,
- corporate foundations, and
- operating foundations.
Community foundations are primarily interested in strengthening communities in a defined geographic location. Grants provided by community foundations stay within the communities they serve. Individuals from the community endow funds (donor-advised funds). These funds are managed by the community foundation’s staff and governed by a board consisting of community leaders and volunteers. Donors rely on the community foundation’s staff to match their funding interests with the charitable needs of the community.
Family foundations are, for the most part, controlled by family members, often multi-generational family members. According to The Foundation Center, family foundations awarded 48% ($19.5 billion) of all private foundation grants dispersed in 2010. You may encounter family foundations that only support specific causes and do not accept proposals unless you are invited to submit one. You may also encounter family foundations that are managed by a bank.
Many private independent foundations originated as family foundations or were established from an individual’s estate or by a group of individuals. Private independent foundations may be national in scope, confined to a fixed geographic area, or focused on a specific purpose (heart disease, childhood nutrition, international politics, etc.)
Corporate foundations are 501(c)(3) foundations linked to a corporation but are separate entities created for the purpose of distributing a portion of the company’s profits as grants. Requesting grant funding from a corporate foundation is the same as with other private foundations. Not all corporations have a separate foundation. If you are looking for cash donations and in-kind gifts, which come out of the company’s marketing budget, contact the company rather than the foundation.
Operating foundations conduct their own charitable programs and activities. They do not award grants.
Find a Community Foundation – Free
It’s always best to start locally when searching for a grant. Your local or regional community foundation is a great starting point. There are two no-cost online searchable databases where you can locate a community foundation near you: Council on Foundations and The Grantsmanship Center.
Find a Corporate Giving Program – Free
There is no fee to access The Grantsmanship Center’s Top Corporate Giving Programs, which is searchable by state. Once you’ve located a corporate giving program in your state, you can research their grant opportunities on the corporation’s website. Generally, you’ll find grant information listed under Community, Community Investment, or Corporate Citizenship.
Find Foundation and Corporate Grants – Free
The FoundationCenteris the premier source for locating foundation and corporate grants. A wealth of information (including Foundation Grants to Individuals Online) can be accessed for free at one of the Foundation Center’s 450 Cooperating Collections housed in libraries, universities and community foundations throughout the country. To find a Foundation Center Cooperating Center near you, go to FoundationCenter.org/Collections or call (800) 424-9836 Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 7:00pm Eastern.
Find Foundation and Corporate Grants – Fee-Based
The FoundationCenter’s Foundation Directory Online is a fee-based searchable database where you can find foundation grants. There are varying monthly subscription levels available.
The FoundationCenter’s Corporate Giving Online searchable database is also fee-based and offers different subscription levels. In addition to corporate grantmakers, you can search for corporations providing cash donations, in-kind donations, professional services and volunteers.
There are several other fee-based, online searchable databases where you can search for foundation grants …
- BigDatabase.com You can also search for government grantmakers on BigDatabase.com.
Government Grants – Free
There is no reason to pay for researching available government grants. All available government grants can be found online for free.
The best place to search for federal grants is Grants.gov. You can sign up to receive daily announcements, search for grants by specific programs, or search for grants being offered by each of the 26 federal agencies. Bear in mind there are very few federal grants available to individuals. Most federal grants are issued to universities, hospitals, libraries, and nonprofit organizations.
To find state grants, search the state’s website or find state government homepages on The Grantsmanship Center‘s website. You can also find city and county grants at the respective websites.