The Best Grants Websites of 2022
Grant research can be a very time-consuming process. We know that as a grant writer or fundraiser within a nonprofit organization, your time is valuable.
In this article, we will provide insights into the best grant websites to help make your research efforts more effective and efficient. You will be able to use these resources and tools to identify a list of top prospects.
The Value of Grant Websites
As a grant writer or nonprofit staff member, you have a lot on your plate. Identifying the right funders from the start will help you increase your chances of receiving funding for your valuable work.
Grant websites and databases are designed to help you weed through the many funding opportunities available and conduct effective grant research. Many grant websites also include features for tracking and organizing your research so that you can easily create a list of your top choices.
Although you may be able to find some basic information through a standard internet search, this strategy will be hit or miss. Using a grant website will help you make the best use of your time by allowing you to identify potential funders all in one place.
The best grant websites will organize funders by common criteria such as:
- their priorities
- types of work they fund
- basic requirements
- tax information (if available)
You can also link directly to the funder website from these databases to learn more about your top funders.
Other important features of grant websites that can make the grant research and writing process easier include reporting, due date reminders, and collaboration tools.
All of these features within one database can help you find valuable prospects and make the most of your fundraising efforts.
How We Evaluated the Best Grant Websites
Through a thorough review of the many options available, we compiled our list of the best grant websites. We compared these grant websites based on five evaluation criteria: pricing, popularity among nonprofits, features offered, types of grants listed, and ease of use.
When evaluating pricing, we looked at the various options such as monthly, yearly, or multi-year pricing. We also analyzed whether or not there were free access options.
Popularity Among Nonprofits
We read through reviews from organizations that had experience with the various grant research databases to determine which are the most popular or most commonly used.
When investigating the features offered, we looked for options including reporting, additional learning opportunities, grant tracking, search options, and linking to additional details about funders.
Types of Grants Listed
Another important aspect of our review of the best grant websites was what types of grants are listed in the database. Some grant websites for nonprofits only list one type of funder such as foundations, while others provide a more comprehensive database of multiple types of grant opportunities.
Ease of Use
When determining ease of use, we analyzed the search features such as keyword searching, project matching, and others. We also reviewed whether the grant website easily linked to additional resources such as 990s and funder websites.
What are the Best Grant Websites?
While there are many grant websites for nonprofits, we are providing you with a few of the best and most widely used to help you determine the right fit(s). The table provides a brief comparison of our top choices as well as the top sites for specific types of grants.
*See the detailed explanation for more information.
Instrumentl is one of the best grant databases for nonprofits based on our evaluation criteria outlined above. The key reason for this is due to it’s incredibly easy to use user interface, coupled by its intelligent features such as smart matching along with robust grant tracking and management.
Pricing: There is a 14-day free trial available and then monthly pricing is $179/month on the annual plan. The free trial is available with no credit card information required and can help you determine if you like the database.
Popularity Among Nonprofits: Instrumentl has grown quickly over the last few years, serving over 1600 nonprofits and grant writing consultants.
Features Offered: Instrumentl brings grant prospecting, tracking, and management to one place. There are easy tools for creating projects and smart matching features. Instrumentl also provides additional learning opportunities such as a blog and educational webinars which are free of charge.
The Projects feature provides workspaces where grant searches can be saved, while also allowing the user to track and manage grants they found both on and off Instrumentl in the same place. Below is an example of an individual project Tracker:
Types of Grants Listed: Another reason Instrumentl is on the top of the list is that it includes multiple types of grants from foundations, to corporations, to government grants.
Below you can see just some of the many filter options available when reviewing active grant opportunities in the Matches tab:
Ease of Use: Instrumentl provides helpful search options by allowing you to design a project and search for grants to fund that specific work through keyword search features.
Another way this database ranks well in terms of ease of use is by providing snapshots of 990s and links to the full tax forms when available.
Here is a screenshot of this particular feature:
2. Foundation Directory Online
Foundation Directory Online can be a great resource if you are looking specifically for foundation funding.
Pricing: There are many public locations such as libraries that can provide you with free access. You can use the lookup feature to find a free access location near you. If you prefer to have access whenever and wherever you need it, you can get your membership starting at approximately $49.99/month.
Popularity Among Nonprofits: This grant research website is popular among nonprofits because free access is available and it provides information on many foundations that may not even have their own websites. The database offers insight into as many as 225,000 different funders depending on your subscription level.
Features Offered: Foundation Directory Online provides helpful features such as keyword searching, linking to 990s, and information on work that has previously been funded by the foundation.
Types of Grants Listed: When analyzing the types of grants listed, this database ranks a little lower because it only includes foundations.
Ease of Use: The database allows you to set up a recipient profile and then search for matches. You can then view the funder profile which provides many details on the foundations including contacts.
If you’re exploring FDO vs. Instrumentl, you may find this page useful.
GrantStation ranks pretty well based on pricing and popularity, and is primarily used for simple searches.
Pricing: The annual cost for a GrantStation membership is $699/year, but there are many ways to receive discounted pricing. Many nonprofit associations partner with GrantStation to provide discounts and you can receive a free membership to GrantStation if you subscribe to the Chronicle of Philanthropy.
Popularity Among Nonprofits: We found that GrantStation is popular among nonprofits based on the fact that nonprofit associations choose to partner with GrantStation and provide a discounted membership.
Features Offered: In addition to relatively straightforward keyword search options, they provide high-level funder profiles that include current funding priorities, grant guidelines, application deadlines, and even specific notes about certain funders.
You can see an example funder profile below:
Instrumentl provides much more robust foundation profiles. Here is the link to the same exact funder on Instrumentl. Notice how Instrumentl gives insights to grant amounts, past grantees, openness to new grantees and more while GrantStation does not have this capability. To learn more about the differences between GrantStation and other grant tools, go here.
GrantStation also provides additional training opportunities, blog posts, a newsletter, and more.
Types of Grants Listed: GrantStation lists all types of grants from foundations, to corporations, to government grants.
Ease of Use: GrantStation is fairly simple to use and offers keyword search options. Their funder profiles give a starting place for your searches but you’ll likely need to do more digging to truly understand whether a funder is a good fit or not. They also provide a snapshot of the funding opportunity as well as links to funder websites and resources.
GrantWatch offers a decent combination of features at an affordable price point. Similar to GrantStation, it’s an okay place to start a grant prospecting process, but does not have very robust features beyond that.
Pricing: GrantWatch requires a paid subscription to complete searches which costs $199/year if paid annually.
Popularity Among Nonprofits: This particular grant website is relatively popular among nonprofits due to them being founded in 2010.
Features Offered: GrantWatch offers features including information about pre-application workshops, funding amounts of previous grants, and the number of awards within this database.
Types of Grants Listed: They also rank highly because their grant research database is a comprehensive search engine option for finding a variety of foundation, corporation, and government grants.
Ease of Use: This database ranks okay for ease of use because you can search for opportunities that match your needs through keyword searching and they link to funder websites. That said, the user interface may feel a bit dated and clunky to navigate as you work through it.
Here is a screenshot from their site listing out the key features of the grant database.
If you’re exploring GrantWatch, you may find this page comparing it to Instrumentl helpful.
5. Local and State Government Websites
Local and state government websites are a great place to start if you are looking for government grants.
Below is an example from the California Grants Portal:
Pricing: You can access these sites for free.
Popularity Among Nonprofits: Many nonprofit organizations regularly utilize local funding opportunities and have relationships with local and even state contacts.
Features Offered: These types of sites will have information specific to local and state-level funding opportunities and are not true grant research websites. You will be able to search for grants, but will probably need to know exactly what you are looking for.
Types of Grants Listed: Depending on which specific site you are visiting, you will find local (city or county) or state funding opportunities listed on these websites.
Ease of Use: These sites are not designed for grant research specifically, so it may be a bit harder to find what you are looking for. However, if you know of local or state funding opportunities already, these sites can be a great resource.
Grants.gov is a great resource for government grants. The website includes a database of all federal and some state-level grant opportunities for a variety of entities.
Pricing: The website is free to access. Since it’s free, you may find you’ll need to sift through the site to identify the best opportunities for you.
Popularity Among Nonprofits: This database is popular among nonprofits specifically for government grants.
Features Offered: The grant database includes keyword search options to help you find funding aligned with your work. You can access RFPs for all funding opportunities and link to the application documents through this website as well.
Types of Grants Listed: Grants.gov only lists government grants, but it will provide the most on these types of funding opportunities.
Ease of Use: This website can be a bit cumbersome and is easier to use if you already know what you are looking for.
7. Corporation or Corporate Giving Websites
A corporation or corporate giving website is a great place to start if you’re looking for corporate grants.
Pricing: These websites will be free of charge. Since it’s free, you’ll likely need to spend more time sifting through relevant and irrelevant information.
Popularity Among Nonprofits: Corporation and corporate giving websites are relatively popular among nonprofits when searching specifically for corporate grants.
Features Offered: These websites will provide specifics on funding priorities, contacts at the funder, and typically link directly to the application if they accept online applications. The site may also include information on past work which the corporation has funded.
Types of Grants Listed: A corporation or corporate giving site will only provide information on corporate funding opportunities.
Ease of Use: These websites are typically easy to use with direct information about funding and links to applicable information.
To give you an idea of what you might find on a corporate giving website, here is a screenshot from the Wells Fargo Foundation.
Another good example is Walmart Giving. We have included a screenshot of their giving programs and there are many other good resources on their website.
8. Community Foundation Websites
Websites for a community foundation in your community, region, or state can be a great resource for more localized funding opportunities.
Pricing: These websites are free to access and search for grants.
Popularity Among Nonprofits: Community foundation websites are very popular among nonprofits looking for local or regional funding opportunities.
Features Offered: These types of websites will provide information on specific funding opportunities, details on past giving, funding timelines, funder contacts, and may provide links to online application portals.
Types of Grants Listed: A community foundation website will only provide information on their own local or regional funding opportunities.
Ease of Use: These types of grant websites will be relatively easy to use because they only have information specific to a few funding opportunities.
One example of a community foundation is the North Carolina Community Foundation. They offer funding at the state and regional level, as well as operating affiliate foundations in many North Carolina Counties.
One example of a county affiliate is the Wayne County Community Foundation. If you are not aware of a community foundation in your area, you may be able to find them through a simple internet search. You could also reach out through your nonprofit association to learn if there is a community foundation nearby that funds your locale.
Here is a screenshot of previously funded work from the Wayne County Community Foundation.
How to Use Grant Websites and Databases to Find Grants
While a grant database for nonprofits can be very helpful, it is important to know how to use the resource properly to get valuable data. Here are a few guiding questions to help you as you search for grants.
1. Why Are You Looking for a Grant?
When beginning your search for grants, it is important to know why you need the funds. Understanding what type of work you are hoping to achieve through a grant will help you determine keywords that can be used in your search efforts.
For example, if you plan to provide after-school care for low-income youth, then you could search low-income, underprivileged, afterschool, education, or similar keywords that align with your project.
Do keep in mind that when you work on an application, you will typically need to have a specific project that the funding will support.
2. What Geographic Area Do You Serve?
Many databases allow you to search based on location which will help you identify funders that support work in your geographic area. If you already know the project that you hope to fund, then make sure to use the geographic area for that project.
Many funders limit their support to specific cities, counties, states, or regions. Knowing your geographic area will also help you identify the correct contact at the funder as you get ready to build a relationship.
3. Do You Have a Specific Type of Funding in Mind?
Some grant research websites are better suited for learning about specific types of funders such as foundations or government grants. You may find that the project you are seeking funding for clearly aligns with a specific type of funding.
For example, a larger scale project or partnership may be eligible for a government grant. Whereas if you are doing something more local, then a community foundation may be a better fit.
If you already receive a few grants from foundations, you may be looking to diversify your funding sources and seek a corporate grant or government grant. Knowing this information will help you narrow your searches to certain databases that provide information on these specific funding sources.
4. What Other Organizations Do Similar Work?
You can evaluate which funders support similar organizations to help narrow your grant search efforts. If a certain funder has provided a grant to an organization that serves a similar population or geographic area as your organization, then they may be interested in funding your work as well. You can also keep a list of these types of organizations and look for them listed in 990s and other information provided through the grant databases for nonprofits.
If you see that a similar organization has received funding from a government grant or a specific foundation, that may help direct you to which type of grant research database you should use.
If you need help navigating when to pursue a grant and when not to, check out our free Ultimate Go vs. No-Go Grant RFP Evaluation Tool here.
FAQ Around Grant Websites & Prospecting
1. What is the best free grant website?
If you’re looking for the best grant website at no cost to you, look no further than starting with Instrumentl’s 14-day free trial. Instrumentl is a truly comprehensive grant database for nonprofits. You can search, track, and collaborate all in one place. The combination of these features makes Instrumentl the best website for grants.
Instrumentl’s search features include smart matching which will help you identify grant opportunities for a specific project quickly. You can learn how Instrumentl compares to other grant search engines through the footer here. The 14-day free trial will provide you access to the full grant database so that you can begin your grant search.
Here is a screenshot of the project setup tool that helps you search for matches aligned directly with your work:
2. Are there websites that also report on funders with bad reputations?
If you are looking for information about the reputation of a specific funder, then GrantAdvisor is a great resource. The website compiles reviews about foundations that are submitted by organizations that have worked with the funder or have some knowledge of the funder. You can use these reviews to learn tips and tricks and the database also compiles a score for the funder based on the reviews.
Here is a screenshot to show a couple of examples of the reviews provided on this site.
These types of reviews are a great way to gain insight into details about the funder that you may not find in your general search efforts.
3. How long should a short-list of potential funders be?
The length of your “short-list” of potential funders will depend on your organization and the work that you are seeking to fund. You will want to make sure that you have identified prospects with true potential while keeping the list short enough that you can do further research.
Your deeper research into potential funders will likely weed out a few more from this list, so depending on the amount of funding that you need and your potential prospects, we recommend a short-list of five to ten potential funders.
You need to keep in mind the capacity of your fundraising team as you will be doing further research on these funders to determine which applications you will complete. If you are a small shop, then five potential funders is a good amount.
4. Is there a limit to how many grants a nonprofit can apply for?
There is no limit on the number of grants that a nonprofit can apply for, but you need to keep in mind your organizational capacity. Each application takes time to complete, especially if you are completing a truly competitive and well-written application.
You also have to make sure that you can comply with all grant requirements for each grant that you are awarded. Many funders will require specific reports and you will need to track expenses and complete the proposed work.
It is also important that you do not receive more funds than you can use, because most funders will require you to show expenditures and you will be required to return unused funds.
Wrapping Things Up: The Best Grants Websites
We have provided you with insights regarding the best grant websites to help you in your grant research. We hope that you have found the information we have provided useful and now feel better prepared to search for grants to support your work. It is important to utilize grant research websites when conducting your grant research so that you can maximize your efforts.
We recommend you check us out as the best website to prospect, track and manage your grants. Just create a 14-day free trial here.
Our unique matching algorithm has matched thousands of nonprofits with new good fit funders, enabling them to expand their mission and community impact.