Researching grants takes time and energy, and understanding the options and which details to focus on can make the job easier.

Growing a nonprofit requires a lot of dedication – both to the mission and to finding the funds. Grants are definitely among the resources that help nonprofits establish a financial foundation while taking your organization to the next level. 

But, where to find them?

There are many paid database tools, such as Instrumentl, Candid Foundation Directory, and Grantwatch. These tools can be pricey, and we understand that as a small or startup nonprofit – every little expense hits the bottom line. 

As a budget friendly option, we personally subscribe to Fluxx Grantseeker, and find the database tools and program sorting suitable for finding and organizing our clients’ grant strategies. We manage our grants’ calendar and deadline outside of Fluxx, and offer some free tools for you to do this also in our FREE grant toolkit.

Speaking of free – there are also some free ways to find grants.

Start with Google

Search for local foundations to your nonprofit’s service area, as these are likely to come up in search engines. You may also find some mission aligned grants by searching for keywords, for example: “youth focused grants for nonprofits.” You won’t find a full list free on google, this is a great starting point.

Check your Local Library

Many libraries maintain subscriptions to grant funder database tools, that you can access free of charge! In fact, this is how I got started with Presence&Company – I spent hours at our local University library searching their database tool for opportunities. I usually brought my laptop along so that I could enter the opportunities into my computer before leaving. 

Review Local Government Websites

Cities, counties and states will post requests for proposals for specific funding needs determined at the government level. Browse websites local to your area, or call your local contacts if you need help finding information. 

Search Federal Grants for Free is a free website that posts public information about upcoming funding opportunities. The website allows you to search with various filters that can narrow down to your mission and area.

What to Look for in a Funder

Now that you have a starting point for finding possible funders to add to your list, what should you look for in order to determine its a good fit? The below list offers a starting point. Typically, when researching grants, you may spend a few minutes checking that these various areas are aligned with your organization to build a list, and then come back for a closer look at each funder at a later date to further vet the opportunity. 


Will the funder serve your region? Are they interested in the population that you support – whether that includes age range, gender, ethnicity, and so forth?

Mission statement

Once you know at a basic level that you’d fit into the demographics mold, take a look at the funder’s mission statement and/or about page. Read the language and think about whether this aligns with your projects and programs.

Funding priorities

Still seems like a possible fit? Great. Keep searching the website for other details on funding priorities. Some funders will have a page on their website that is called just that, while others will “hide” it under terms like “how we work,” or “what we fund” or “our goals,” and so forth.

Previous Giving

What can you learn from previous grants awarded? Some funder’s will provide an extensive list on their website. If not, and if you have access to a database as discussed above, then search the foundation’s name to find more about its history. You can also use the free IRS 990 search tool to search for any tax exempt organization’s 990s, which provides the same information.

Grant deadlines

Make note of any grant deadlines. If you missed the cycle for this year, it may still be a good fit for next year – but it’s very important that you are aware of this in advance and bookmark your notes appropriately.

How to Prepare Your Organization for Mission Alignment

You now know how to find funders that are mission-aligned, great! This is only one side of the coin – you need to be sure that a funder will feel the same way upon reviewing content about your organization.

This means, in order to be grant ready, your nonprofit needs to have a clearly defined mission that is shared on your digital platforms and any grant applications – and is consistent. Also, be sure that you have clearly defined programs that will make sense to funders and messaging that explains your programs’ purpose in a way that will connect the dots for mission alignment.

Need help with that? Start with a case for support! Check out this post on creating a case for support that speaks to donors, or schedule a FREE session to talk with us about writing yours today.