I’ve been writing grants for the last 13 years. It’s a love hate relationship. The thrill of the hunt, the anxiety of deadlines, waiting for an answer, the elation of receiving funding and the new anxiety of following through. There is not a novice or experienced grant writer that hasn’t looked for an easier way. From templates, tracking systems, and grant search engines, we have all googled for a quicker return on investment.
The search for funders
Finding funders and the right request for proposal is often a dance between relationship building and research. As all grant writers, I have a process for researching and uncovering funding options for clients. It is often tedious scanning over IRS forms, calling past grantees, and reading through qualification lists. I have tried grant search companies in the past. In fact, I am still on several of their listservs today. Yet I have always found that the grants “found” for me were fairly basic or not well matched for our clients.
A few years ago, overwhelmed by the amount of people in need of grant writing assistance, I decided to circle back and look at grant search platforms. This time I used my own grant research process to test the platforms. I simply took a client that I had created a grant options portfolio for and proceeded to see if the platforms would be able to pull the same in-depth portfolio.
Here are some things I found:
- The platforms have gotten more in depth – That said they are only as good as the information you put in as the user. If you have ever used accounting software, you have heard the saying, “Crap in means crap out”. If you are not starting with solid information on the needs, location, etc of the hopeful recipient then you are not going to get clear results.
- Things change quickly – Even with the best platforms, you still need to do some follow ups to ensure it is the right funder and the right time. Especially with the pandemic, funders are pivoting now more than ever. Make sure to research generated leads before writing or presenting to a client.
- Quality if not guaranteed – More money does not equal a better product, but you also get what you pay for. Test them out. Many offer at least a month free as a trial run. Also know that some grant platforms are simply just going to give you a listing of grants where others will assist with matching grants to a specific non-profit.
After researching and testing, our team invested in Instrumentl, which I have used for two years, saving time and money. In comparing it to my research, the platform located the same options I did and was substantially faster. I had to follow up to ensure accuracy, but in the end I cut a 40 hour process by at least half depending on the client. This has created more efficiency resulting in satisfied clients and an increased capacity for more.
If you are seeking funding, definitely give grant search platforms another look. Download our Grant Platform Resource for a quick comparison of these options.
Check out these additional links to platform comparisons: