(Foundation Center does not give grants/donations, suggest specific funders, or approach them on your behalf. More about Foundation Center's mission. But we can point you to resources that should help you in your funding search.)

Note: The following article is for U.S.-based organizations. International organizations seeking grants should click here.


Finding grants typically begins with "prospect research" - finding out who is most likely to give you money. Funders generally care about:

  • Subject. Is your mission compatible with theirs? Does your program help solve a problem they are passionate about?
  • Population served. Do you help people the funder cares about?
  • Geographic region. Even if the funder isn't located near you, have they given grants to other organizations in your area?

Please note that foundations generally give to nonprofits with 501(c)(3) status from the IRS. If you don't have tax-exempt status, you might consider fundraising from individuals who support your cause, such as crowdfunding. If you want grants, explore fiscal sponsorship.

The best way to research grant prospects is with Foundation Directory Online (FDO).  Foundation Center's searchable database gives you the most comprehensive and accurate information you can find on grantmakers and their grants. You can search based on subject area, geography, grantmaker type, trustee names, and many other search fields. See a sample record.

Use FDO on your own computer by choosing from two subscription plans, depending on the depth of information you need. You can also use FDO for free at one of our 400+ Funding Information Network locations worldwide.

Connecting with Community Foundations: Your Partner Next Door (Live Webinar)

Did you know that community foundations offer most of their grants to local nonprofits? Join us on May 16 to learn proven strategies to build and maintain meaningful relationships with your local community foundation. Enroll now. 

We also offer these free online resources for finding grants:

Click here for information about finding government grants.

Keep track of your prospects

The amount of information you collect will grow quickly! If you subscribe to FDO, its Workspace features can help you manage your prospects.

If you'd rather save your research externally, here's a prospect worksheet to help you keep track of your information or to help you create your own system. If you're looking for software options, Idealware offers reports and articles on choosing a donor management system.

New to finding funders?

Start learning now with Introduction to Finding Grants, available for free as a live/recorded webinar or an in-person class.

You can also watch a recorded version now in the YouTube window below.

Topic(s) Fundraising Find Corporate Donors Find Foundation Donors

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