Finding Funding for Projects in Africa

If Your Organization is Based in Africa

If you work for an organization based in Africa, you can identify potential funding sources several ways. Some of the strategies--like combing through a donor database--will be identical to those used by a U.S.-based organization. Other strategies are going to be region specific.

  • To find potential sources of funding, the first step is to identify funders that give money to organizations based in Africa. The donors listed to the left have all funded projects based in Africa. The list has been broken into four broad project categories: agriculture, education, HIV/AIDS, and women. To uncover potential funders, begin your research by visiting the websites of each of the donors listed under the category relevant to your work. On the donor websites you should be able to find information about the donor's programmatic interests, the names of past grantees, and information about current funding opportunities.

  • A shortcut to identifying potential donors is to find out who is funding other community-based organizations in your geographic area. Starting with the donors who fund projects in your geographic area helps to focus your list of prospective donors.

  • Foreign governments often give money directly to national governments in Africa with the stipulation that that money be used to fund community-based projects. In addition to reaching out to other community-based organizations to find out who their funders are, try to meet with government officials to find out about grant mechanisms administered by the government at the local, regional, or national level.

  • A regional resource to check out is the African Development Bank (AfDB). Civil society organizations at the community level may have opportunities to participate in AfDB-funded projects.

If Your Organization Is Based in the U.S. 
If your organization is headquartered in the U.S. and has 501(c)(3) status, you are in luck. The U.S. philanthropic sector boasts more private foundations than any country in the world and the U.S. government is the single largest donor for international development. 

  • For U.S. government grants and contracts, head over to and respectively.

  • For grants from private foundations, you've got choices, some free, some at a price. For free options:

    • You can do a Google search with your issue + location (i.e. HIV prevention + Tanzania + grant) to see what comes up, (and a lot will, most of it not relevant). It's going to be a slow process to identify potential funders.

    • You can research other U.S.-based organizations doing the kind of work you want to do. Look at their website, read their annual reports, review their Form 990s (annual IRS filings) to see who gave them grants in the last year. Also a slow process, but more precise than using Google.

    • If you have some ideas of potential funders--maybe you've heard the names of foundations that fund in the geographic area where you want to work--you can go to foundation's website. Read about the organizations and projects it's funded recently, look at currently eligibility standards, and review the foundation's Form 990 to see the list of grantees.

  • Free options are a good start, but they'll only take you so far. Many of the smaller, family-run foundations do not have websites or produce reports on their past giving. To learn more about these types of foundations, you'll need to buy a subscription to a donor database. The subscriptions range in price from few hundred to a few thousand dollars a year. However, if you're serious about finding funding, you'll need a subscription to at least one database. Two options to consider include:

    • Foundation Center's Foundation Directory Online: Probably the most well known of the donor databases, Foundation Directory Online is run by the Foundation Center. Subscriptions options range from monthly to annual. A monthly subscription, which you can cancel anytime, will cost you $200/month for a single license.

    • Grant Station: Grant Station is one of the most affordable options at $149/year. The Grant Station database includes international funding, which you can sort by subject area as well as geographic (region or country). If you subscribe to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, you will receive access to the database as part of your subscription.

For a list of funding databases and resources head over to the General Resources page.


Struggling to find funding? Check out our course How to Find Funding for Your Organization!