Grant Research

Grant research is a time-consuming process. To consider otherwise means not addressing all the issues that arise in identifying a funding source. What, then, is a funding source? Or better yet, what is the reason (underlying cause, condition, social issue, etc.) that requires such research? Is the reason related to housing, health issues, literacy, environmental, job training, neighborhood revitalization or a host of other societal concerns that need addressing, and by default, funding?

What drives grant research is the reason for the funding need. As described above it can be any number of concerns – it may be a single issue – or it could be a combination of problems that require remedy. Clearly articulating the concern will result in more fruitful and productive research that identifies entities that fund that particular issue.

Organizations that primarily seek funds are public charities, schools, colleges and universities, medical research facilities, and other agencies. These entities can, by law, request funds from the government (federal, state, county, and local levels), corporations, businesses, and foundations. While this is true overall, each government unit, every corporation, business, and foundation can, and does, have eligibility requirements that guide their individual funding strategies. To assume that a foundation will fund a worthwhile initiative begs the question of the foundation’s mission: what it funds and what it does not fund. Careful attention to this detail means either time well-spent or time-wasted. Governmental units do not have a mission statement per see, but what they do have are specific criteria for eligibility. Most corporations and businesses fund public charities, but again, it is the reason for the funding request that matters.

Do the homework. Research carefully, and take one’s time. Understand what a particular entity funds. If the organization addresses environmental concerns, seek those foundations that fund such initiatives. If the foundation works with the homeless, and the organization needs funds to further its program to shelter homeless individuals by providing transitional housing, then a potential funder has been identified. This is the meaningful way to conduct grant research:

  1. Articulate the need clearly;
  2. Conduct research according to that need;
  3. Identify potential funders by reviewing eligibility requirements, i.e., what they fund and what they do not fund;
  4. If the need falls outside of the funder’s parameters, eliminate that source;
  5. If the need falls within funder’s parameters then proceed as directed.

After identifying a potential funder, the organization’s representative must determine the best manner of contact. Research what the funder expects in regard to initial contact, and proceed accordingly. While foundations may prefer initial inquiries by mail or telephone, government units are different. Generally, with federal funding opportunities, there will be little contact. States, counties and cities may have more interaction depending on the need, and the availability of funds.

Just remember: Grant research requires time and resolve. Don’t despair after an initial attempt. Keep looking, and once a likely funder is identified, research the funder’s requirements thoroughly. This is sound grant research strategy!

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