Today’s article is part of our series on grant writing, one area in which Tiny Frog Strategies works with organizations to get from where they are to where they want to be.
Where do I find grant opportunities for my organization?
Let’s talk about where to look for grant opportunities. (If you need a refresher on what grant funding is all about, click here.) To know where to look, you need to know where you are coming from. So today we’re going to use my favourite imaginary charity, Save the Pond, located in a quiet corner of Vancouver, British Columbia.
Freida Frog, the Executive Director of Save the Pond, was sitting in her office watching raindrops hit the pond. She was thinking about the upcoming activities at Save the Pond and wondering how she would make sure there was enough to pay for it all. Things on her mind included staff salaries, the tadpoles’ programming (this was the name for their children’s activities that gave city kids a chance to see wildlife), the pond’s water system that needed a new solar-powered filter, and a collaboration with a neighbourhood group to install a temporary art exhibit at the pond.
She had the feeling that each of these projects might allow her to tap into different pots of money. For example, a funder interested in the environment might pay for the new filter. Or, someone interested in children’s programming might support the Tadpoles group.
But, where should she look to find these funders?
Freida started where most of us start these days – she googled. What came back was overwhelming. She asked a couple of other neighbourhood organizations, but they were reluctant to share their sources. She also looked in the files to find past applications, but those funders were no longer active.
So, Freida picked up the phone and called Julia at Tiny Frog Strategies. She said,
“Enough of this, you’re supposed to be the grant expert around here – just tell me where to look already!”
Well, I guess I better get on with it. 😊
Save the Pond is an imaginary example, but I hope you can apply these tips for Freida in your own grant search.
Different levels of government provide grant funding.
I suggest start with your local government and work your way up. Freida could look at:
– municipal government, which in this case is the City of Vancouver.
– provincial government. In British Columbia, gaming grants are popular, so she googles information about BC gaming.
– national government. For instance, last year she could have applied for Canada 150 money. Often funds from government are dispersed through secondary sources, so she might have to be creative, but she could start looking for federal funds here.
Community oriented businesses provide grant funding.
Freida could also look for businesses in her community are that are successful and have a philanthropic orientation. For example, in Vancouver the community credit union has a strong public stance about investing locally.
Foundations provide grant funding.
Foundations are nonprofit organizations that disperse some or all of a pool of capital to other nonprofit organizations.
There are also family foundations or foundation arms of professional associations. To find these organizations you could check:
– the free list of foundations who’ve added their information to Charity Village.
– the Grant Connect database, an up-to-date list of foundations and other funders. There is a cost to access the database.
Frieda looked at everything Julia listed and thought that it would be nice to have access to Grant Connect, which included tools to filter by specific types of funding, location and deadlines, but she didn’t really have extra money for a one-time search. Here’s what you need to know about what she did instead:
Access the right funders for FREE at your library!
If you live in Vancouver, Ottawa or Toronto, your public library system has access to Grant Connect for FREE. You just have to physically go into a library branch to use the database. I’m sure they aren’t the only libraries who do this, so check to see if your community library has access. If you live in a small town, you may have visiting permission at a bigger library.
Several weeks later, I checked back in with Frieda Frog. She’s found some pots of money in her region. She thinks that some of the work done by Save the Pond fits with the type of work they fund. She even has some deadlines for upcoming applications, although some have past. (But she’s noted on her calendar to check again next year.)
She’s ready to start her application.