The process of finding grants typically begins with prospect research. Foundations generally give based on subject and geographic region, so look for funders whose interests match your organization's mission, programs, populations served, and locations served.
Please note that foundations generally give to nonprofits with 501(c)(3) status. If you don't have exempt status, first consider finding a nonprofit to work with or to act as your fiscal sponsor. These might help you qualify for more funding opportunities. To learn more, please see our resources on fiscal sponsorship.
Foundation Directory Online (FDO) is Foundation Center's searchable database that provides an unsurpassed level of comprehensive and accurate information 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.
To use it from your own computer, you can choose from two subscription plans that you can renew by the month or year. You can also use it for free at one of our 400+ Funding Information Network locations worldwide.
We also offer these free online resources for finding grants:
- FDO Quick Start: Search by name, city, state, ZIP, or EIN to get contact details, basic grantmaker information and links to recent 990s.
- Requests for Proposals (RFPs): Announcements of funding opportunities. Also available as an RSS feed or free weekly e-newsletter.
- Foundation Landscapes: Working in partnership with funders and philanthropy networks, Foundation Center develops free custom web portals on selected subjects. These sites, which are constantly updated, provide a targeted look at the community of funders and recipients working on a common issue. Click on the interactive funding maps at these Foundation Landscapes sites:
- Black male achievement/Men and boys of color
- Disaster philanthropy
- Early childhood development in East Africa
- Funding in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda
- Media impact
- Ocean preservation
- U.S. democracy
- Water access, sanitation and hygiene
- Youth-led grantmaking programs
Keep track of your prospects
The amount of information you will 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.