As a nonprofit, receiving the right grant can make all the difference. But the funding process can come with so much heartache and red tape. As a result, many eligible organizations stop short of pursuing the grants they need to plan and implement a potentially transformative program.
This doesn’t have to be your story. SOAR works with Eastern Kentucky’s nonprofit organizations to prepare, apply for, and manage grant funding. And we’ve got tips to help you optimize the process for your team — so you can dedicate more energy to helping the causes that mean most to you.
One of the first steps you’ll take in the funding process is identifying the grants you may be eligible to receive. There are thousands of potential grants and funders — and each comes with varying requirements and eligibility factors.
Even if you already have a strong understanding of what you’re looking for, locating the right grant can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack.
You should be spending most of your collective funding efforts perfecting your application materials — not combing through search results online. Free up more of your time by following these tips to locate grants you’re eligible for — via our 2 favorite grant databases, GrantStation and GrantWatch.
What’s a grant database?
A grant database is a tool that allows you to access multiple grant opportunities from many sources in a single view.
Depending on the provider, the listings may include:
- Federal grants
- State grants
- Foundation grants
- Charity grants
- And more
Standard search engines, such as Google or Bing, search the entire web and use a wide variety of criteria to display search results. They simply can’t offer what specialized grant databases can to grant-seekers — highly targeted and filterable search queries based on the criteria critical to grant-seekers, such as:
- Grant type
- Grant size
- Administrative requirements
- Due date
- Matching requirements
There are several grant databases out there for you to use. As an organization that regularly pursues grants for our programs, SOAR recommends you look into GrantStation and GrantWatch.
Getting to know GrantStation
GrantStation is a grant database available to nonprofits, government groups, and educational institutions. It features grants from various sources, including private, corporate, and community foundations, corporate contribution programs, faith-based funders, associations, and others.
The grants world can be intimidating and challenging to break into. That’s why we especially appreciate GrantStation for dedicating an entire section of their website to help organizations build their grants strategy from the ground up.
GrantStation also offers a robust catalog of training materials for grant-seekers across every experience level.
And if you ever wonder what a top-notch grant proposal looks like, take a look at GrantStation’s friendly competition held every other year, “The Winning Grant Proposal.” You can review past winners and runners-up to gain insight into successful grants across industries and focus areas.
How to use GrantStation
GrantStation provides a series of free instructional videos, newsletters, and articles to help you learn how to use their grants database.
Each grant database will have its own search engines, terms, and particularities. So if you have experience with other databases (or this is your first time using one), start by checking out GrantStation’s search terms glossary.
When developing your search, you can input multiple search terms into each section. Note that the results will only list grantors that meet all your selected criteria. If your search is more flexible, consider running separate, parallel searches.
Review all of GrantStation’s search tips — and learn how to optimize your approach through these helpful how-to videos.
Some GrantStation features are available without a membership. Still, you’ll want to become a member to make the most of this helpful resource.
It’s highly affordable. Membership is available for 1 year ($169) or 2 years ($219).
Or, if you’re a member of the Appalachia Nonprofit Resource Center (ANRC), provided by ARC, you can access GrantStation membership free of charge. Most nonprofit organizations in Eastern Kentucky should be eligible to sign up for ANRC membership to get free access to GrantStation.
Meet GrantWatch — a grant database solution inclusive of entrepreneurs
GrantWatch is a grant database available for use by local, national, and international nonprofits, government agencies, small businesses, and individuals. It features grants from foundations, corporations, and federal, state, and local government funding sources.
GrantWatch differs from GrantStation because it works with just about any type of entity that could need a grant — including the small business community. This means startups and entrepreneurs can use GrantWatch, too.
How to use GrantWatch
Since it pulls from nearly every possible source, GrantWatch features one of the largest grants databases available today.
They provide a wealth of resources to help you optimize applications, including a well-rounded knowledge base and a frequently-updated blog.
Due to its size, you can be confident that you’re reviewing nearly every available opportunity that might apply to your organization. That said, large quantities of search results can be overwhelming. GrantWatch has fewer filtering capabilities than other databases, so you may have to parse the results in greater detail to confirm your eligibility.
GrantWatch membership is also relatively affordable compared to other grant databases. You can access members-only features for even just one week if you’re on a tight budget.
- 1 week: $18
- 1 month: $45
- 1 quarter $90
- 1 year: $199
Sourcing foundation grants with FDO
Foundation Directory Online (FDO) is a grant database that primarily focuses on foundations.
According to the FDO, the majority of foundations don’t have websites, which makes it challenging to identify and build relationships with prospective foundation grantors.
FDO lists over 100,000 foundations, including philanthropic foundations, corporate giving programs, and public charities. The total funding value contained in RFPs listed last year reached $52 billion.
If your organization plan to pursue a foundation prospecting strategy, FDO would be a helpful resource for targeting your efforts towards funders aligned with your mission.
Membership starts at $49.99 per month and reaches $199.99 per month to access premium features.
Conclusion: Prepare a standout grant application
SOAR works with Eastern Kentucky’s nonprofit organizations to help them do their best work. Part of that effort is ensuring you receive the funding you need to launch innovative new programs and projects.
We’ve produced a resource to help you confidently submit your grant applications: the Grants 101 Playbook for Eastern Kentucky. Download it today to receive valuable information about the grant application process, including:
- What to expect when applying for funding
- How to submit a winning grant application
- Identifying relevant grants for your organization
- Best practices for every step of the way
After you read the playbook, contact your SOAR representative. We can help by providing an additional layer of review and offering helpful feedback for your application.