Knowing where to look for new grant opportunities is of central importance if your organization depends on grant money to survive. If your budget is large enough, you can subscribe to services that will send you alerts about new opportunities. If you are a small nonprofit, or your budget is tight, a subscription service may not be feasible.
Fortunately, there are many free resources you can use to find open opportunities, some of which will even send you alerts. Below is a selection of resources you can use to learn about funders and open grant opportunities. While Google is often used for grant research--and Google searches are free--grant research using Google can be hit or miss (often many hits, many misses), so it has not been included as a resource.
If you know of other free resources for grant research, please share your knowledge by submitting a comment below!
To find foundation funding, you can do several things. If you have the name of a foundation, and the foundation maintains a website, you can visit the website to learn about the foundation’s programs and application guidelines. If you do not have a specific foundation in mind, one or all of the resources below can help you generate a list of potential leads:
Foundation Center: Through 400 public locations in the US and internationally, you can access the Foundation Center’s database and other materials for free. To see if there is a Funding Information Network location near you, type your location into the Foundation Center’s lookup form. Having free access to the Foundation Center’s database is a considerable cost saving: a subscription to Foundation Directory Online begins at $49.99/month.
GrantStation: If you subscribe to the Chronicle of Philanthropy ($86/year), as part of your subscription, you receive free access to the funder database GrantStation. Regardless of whether you choose to subscribe to the Chronicle, you can sign up for GrantStation's newsletters to receive listings of newly released opportunities. GrantStation has two newsletters, one for US-based opportunities (weekly) and one for international opportunities (monthly).
FundsforNGOs: FundsforNGOs offers both free and paid content. On the FundsforNGOs website, you can find information about recently released opportunities, organized by category. FundsforNGOs also distributed a free newsletter of newly released calls for proposals. If you purchase a subscription to FundsforNGOs ($199 for developing countries, $399 for developed countries), in addition to access to a database of funders, you will also have free access to webinars and other materials.
Grant Gopher: Grant Gopher is a funding opportunity database that offers US organizations free basic searches and access to the details of their first five search results. With your free registration, you'll receive a newsletter that includes a selection of open opportunities. You'll also have the option to download up to five sample grant proposals for each funding category. An annual subscription ($99/year) is required to access all listings.
Philanthropy News Digest (PND): PND is a service of the Foundation Center. On the PND website, you will find Request for Proposals (RFPs) listed by category as well as philanthropy news and job postings. You can also sign up for the PND newsletter to have RFP announcements delivered to your inbox.
Community Foundations: Community Foundations are a significant source of funding for US-based nonprofits. You can find a list of community foundations on the Council on Foundations website, organized by state. You can also find community foundation listings on the Peak Proposals website.
Corporate Foundations: Many companies, multinational and local, have grant programs or provide in-kind donations. If you have access to a funder database such as one of the ones mentioned above or listed on the Peak Proposals general resources page, corporate philanthropy programs are usually included as part of the database. If you do not have access to a funder database, one of the best ways to uncover corporate giving programs is to visit the websites of companies based in, or serving, your local community. Except for some multinational corporations, most corporate giving programs restrict their giving to communities where the company has a physical presence.
US Government (USG)
The single best resource to learn about USG grant opportunities is www.grants.gov, which is a free service of the USG. On grants.gov, you will find opportunities posted by 26 federal agencies and 12 independent federal agencies, executive branch offices, and commissions. To discover new opportunities, you have several options. You can visit grants.gov and search by agency, you can subscribe to the grants.gov RSS feed, or you can download the mobile app recently released by grants.gov for IOS and Android.
If your organization is based outside of the US, grants.gov is also for you! Many federal agencies post grant opportunities that are open to organizations based outside of the US. To find out whether an opportunity is open to you, check the eligibility section of the opportunity listing.
Federal Agencies and Other USG Grant-Making Agencies and Offices that Post Opportunities on Grants.gov
Other USG Grant-Making Agencies and Offices
A Note about USG Contracts
This list is focused on resources for identifying grant opportunities. If your organization is interested and able to pursue federal contracts, fbo.gov is the place to go. After you create an account on fbo.gov, you can set up alerts to learn about new postings related to specific opportunities.
State Governments (US)
State government opportunities can be a little harder to track down. Some state-sponsored opportunities will appear in funder databases, just like federally sponsored opportunities. Many state-based opportunities are actually federally funded, so you will also find them posted in grants.gov. To capture all opportunities, state or federally funded and administered at the state level, one of the most reliable routes is to go to the website of the department at the state level that oversees your program area (e.g., if you work in domestic violence, visit the department in your state that covers health and human services).
Government Resources Outside of the US
Outside of the US, you can find grant listings through government websites and the websites of regional and multinational organizations.
Few governments maintain a resource like grants. gov, which posts all government agency grants in a single location. If you live outside of the US and seek a grant for a project based within your country, try visiting the website of the government agency that oversees program or subject areas most closely related to the work of your organization. For example, if your organization’s mission focuses on agricultural productivity, look at the website of the government agency that oversees agriculture in your country.
Federal aid agencies fund the majority of international development work. The lead agency for international aid in the US is the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). USAID's grant opportunities are posted on grants.gov, and its contract opportunities are posted on fbo.gov.
Other governments also have foreign aid agencies and departments that offer grants and contracts. Some agencies only fund organizations based in their home country while others fund both domestic and foreign organizations. All of the major federal aid agencies have websites where they provide programmatic updates and list open opportunities.
You can find a partial list of foreign aid agencies on the Governmental Donors and Intergovernmental Agencies resource page of our site. A comprehensive list of foreign aid agencies can also be found on Wikipedia.
Regional and Global Bodies
Regional bodies and multilateral organizations such as development banks and UN agencies can also be a source of funding and contract work, particularly for larger or more well-established organizations. The sites listed below all have searchable databases of new opportunities accessible on their websites (note: some require registration before accessing the database, but registration is free).
The UN includes affiliated programs, funds, and specialized agencies, all of which have their own operating budgets, and many of which support grant and contract opportunities. To learn about new opportunities, visit the website of the UN agency that works in the area most closely related to your organization’s mission. Examples of UN agencies include the United Nations Development Fund, World Health Organization, and the World Bank. You can find a list of UN agencies on the UN website.
Other multilateral organizations are listed on the Governmental Donors and Intergovernmental Agencies resource page.