In the US, grants most often come from a wide range of Government departments or an even wider range of public and private trusts and foundations. According to the Foundation Center these trusts and foundations number in excess of 88,000 and disperse in excess of $40 billion every year. Government grants can be searched on www.grants.gov. Trusts and Foundations are a little more complex to research and can be found through subscription based directories, such as the Foundation Center Directory Online, FDO. Subscription fees vary – the most basic Foundation Center Directory will cost you $240 for one year, however the search capabilities of this entry level subscription are somewhat limited. More functional versions begin at $480 for one year.
Due to the complex and evermore competitive nature of grant seeking, many grant seekers engage the services of professional grant research and Grant Writing services.
Most often, grants are issued by the government to students through attending post-secondary education institutions. In certain cases, a part of a government loan is issued as a grant, particularly pertaining to promising students seeking financial support for continuing their educations.
As philanthropy continues to grow, so too does the number of grant makers and grant seekers. Consequently Grant Makers may request more complex or in depth information within their application process. However, there are many consistencies across various grant makers and over time some common principles have lead to the development of somewhat generic application processes, with the main differences being related to the depth and quality of information various grant makers require, rather than the type of information they are looking for.
Doing it yourself (DIY) or hiring professionals
There are pros and cons for both, largely depending on the amount and kind of resources that are available.
DIY approach requires a little money – a basic subscription to an online directory such as the Foundation Center costs $240 per annum plus time and hard work. The majority of time is needed (and wisely invested) to sift through the potential grants, trusts and foundations (currently numbered at around 88,000 in the US alone), plus the thousands more government grants, found on various government web sites such as grants.gov
Hiring a professional requires the money to cover their fees plus a little time to ensure you give them accurate, quality information on which to base grant research and proposals.
If funds permit, hiring a professional to do either all or part of the grant writing is probably the easiest, quickest and most effective option. Grant writing has become a highly competitive field, consequently market forces have ensured that most professionals have a similar range of services available at competitive prices.