Finding and Evaluating Grant Opportunities

Finding the right grant-funding opportunities to apply for can be just as time-consuming and tricky as actually writing your grant proposal. Private companies, government agencies, and philanthropists invite nonprofits and other charitable organizations to apply for grants to support their efforts of improving their local communities. With hundreds (if not thousands) of possible funding sources accepting grant applications, finding the right ones might seem overwhelming. The internet, though, can make finding grant applications much more manageable. 

Below, you’ll find strategies for locating calls for grant proposals and determining if they’re the right ones for your organization. 

Where can I find grant application opportunities?

The internet is the best friend and resource of anyone wanting to apply for grant funding. A simple Google search can yield thousands of possible funding sources and opportunities to sustain your efforts serving the Pullman community. While there’s potential for all of these opportunities, grant proposals can be time-consuming, meaning you want to find the opportunities that are most relevant to your organization’s goals and needs.

Helpful Databases

We use online databases and search engines everyday. And just like Google can help you find out what time your favorite fast food place closes, certain websites can help you find the best available grant-funding opportunities. 

Grants.gov is a database maintained by the U.S. government and presents all available opportunities sponsored by various federal, or federal-connected, agencies. The Washington State Department of Commerce lists grant funding opportunities for a variety of projects and organization for those serving communities in Washington state.  

Some databases focus on specific geographic areas, like a region, county, or city. For example, the Innovia Foundation provides grant-funded opportunities to individuals, groups, and organizations looking to improve the communities in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has grant opportunities specifically earmarked for organizations for Pacific Northwest Communities. Since Pullman lies in close proximity to the state of Idaho, it’s also worth checking out opportunities provided by the Idaho Nonprofit Center

Other databases focus on the groups and communities served by the grant-funding. The Women Helping Women Fund lists funding possibilities for individuals, groups, and organizations dedicated to improving the quality of life for women and children in their area. 

Other helpful databases: 

GrantWatch.com

Foundation Directory Online (by Candid)   

Ford Foundation Grants Database 

GetEdFunding.com

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative  

The Rockefeller Foundation

How do I sort through all these applications?

Once you’ve found a database you’re comfortable using to locate grants, you’ll want to think about how you can make your search more manageable. With thousands of grant opportunities available on a given database or website, it’s important to define (and revise, if necessary) your search criteria. 

Search Terms

Like searching something on Google, the search terms we use can make major differences on the results we receive on grant funding databases and websites. Developing precise search terms can help you remove all the irrelevant grant opportunities. For instance, if you’re seeking funding for a kid’s reading program at the local library, you probably don’t need to sift through opportunities intended for projects about improving internet connections to rural communities or to address structural issues at an animal shelter. 

When developing search terms, play a word-association game that relates to both your overall organization and (if applicable) the specific project you’re seeking funding for. For example, if you’re seeking funding for a kid’s reading program at the local library, you could narrow your search through the following search terms: “kids,” “kids reading,” and “library.” Search terms, though, aren’t limited to the words included in your project idea or organization’s name or title. For example, you might also search “rural community,” “eastern Washington,” or “education.” 


Application Due Date

Successful grant proposals often include multiple sections that provide a detailed introduction to the organization and project, timelines for completion, budgets, and intended community impacts. You want to give yourself plenty of time to perform the proper research and for the writing process.

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