Finding Funding for Great Ideas

Here are some good resources for training, funding alerts, and grants by subject area.

Learn About Grants

The Grantsmanship Center and the Foundation Center offer high-quality, intensive training in developing grant proposals that respond to requests for proposals from government agencies, foundations, and corporate funders. Charity Channel offers workshops, publications, and list-serves about legal issues for non-profits, grant funding, board development, and other topics.

Find Funding Opportunities is the US government's official clearing house for all grant opportunities. You can subscribe to a daily email update of all postings and modifications or only for postings by specific agencies.

Each federal agency that provides grant and contract funding posts information on its webpage. The US Department of Education's Forecast of Funding Opportunities includes information about potential grant opportunities throughout the year.

The National Science Foundation offers several ways to search for funding, including by keyword, due date, and even past awards.

The Foundation Center's RFP Bulletin lists grant opportunities from foundations and corporate funders. It also features a daily or weekly email subscription that can be tailored by subject area.

Approach Potential Funders

Research funders to learn about their strategic priorities, giving history, and grant making process. Good tools include the IRS form 990PF, annual reports, news releases, and information from other projects or programs that have received funding.

Review grant making guidelines carefully to understand timelines, preferred methods of contact, and steps involved in a grant application. Small foundations may have no paid staff and no formal process, while larger foundations may have a multi-step process that includes letters of inquiry, meetings and site visits, and extensive reviews of grant seeker proposals, financial statements, and policies.

Regardless of a funder's size or complexity, it's critical to learn about funder priorities and build a relationship built on mutual interests in serving the community.

Craft a Strong Proposal

Read the request for proposals to determine

  • proposal due date
  • applicant eligibility
  • anticipated number of awards
  • funding amount
  • proposal format and required elements
  • required outcomes.

Start planning and writing well before the proposal is due. Competitive federal grants take six months to a year to develop. Research past grants awarded by the funder or program to understand what the funder wants; most funders list their past awards on their websites or in annual reports. Consider using a logic model to ensure you've considered all of the key elements of your project. Begin budgeting early in the process, and ensure every budget item aligns with your activities.

Are you ready? Start writing.

Most letters of inquiry or grant proposals have these elements:


  • Set the stage, hook the readers, establish your credibility
  • Be clear about who you are and what you're asking

Need for the proposed project

  • The need within your organization AND your community can be documented with data and results of needs assessments

Goals and objectives

  • Goals are broad statements
  • Objectives are specific & measurable

Project Description (Action Plan)

  • Describe exactly how the project will meet the goals and objectives (who, what, when, where, and why)
  • Feasibility of proposed approach
  • Sound methodology (major steps are explained and are logical and appropriate for Need)
  • Workable timeline
  • Qualified personnel and partners

Project Significance

  • Your project will have impact, both locally and for other communities
  • Your project aligns well with the funder's mission and priorities


  • A description of what you need money to do. Typical line-items include salaries and benefits, travel, equipment, materials and supplies, contracts, and other considerations like advertising, printing, or space rental.

Contact the Grants Office for more information.