Top 7 Grant Databases To Find Funding For Your Nonprofit

Author:

Karen Lee

,

Account Executive

Reviewed by:

Published:

March 17, 2022

Last Updated:

May 29, 2024

Government funders and foundations give out billions of dollars each year to nonprofits through grants. 

How do you find and get a cut of these grants?

Well, you can find the most popular and most competitive grants at the top of Google. But if you want to go deeper and find the ones you can actually win, you need a more advanced grant database

And there are several grant databases you can choose from— some free (like our U.S. Grant Database) that give you a sample, whereas paid grant databases show more.

This teardown includes the top 7 grant databases for nonprofits. Let’s dive in.

Quick Summary

  1. Instrumentl: Best For Year-Round Grant Research and Grant Management
  2. Foundation Directory Online: Search For Public & Private Foundation Funding
  3. GrantStation: National and International Searches
  4. Local and State Government Websites: Government Grants
  5. Grants.gov: Federal Grants from Numerous Sectors
  6. GrantSelect: National and International Grants For Numerous Sectors
  7. Grant Gopher: For U.S.-based Nonprofits and Educational Institutions

What Makes a "Good" Grant Database?

Grant prospecting is time-consuming. And Google doesn’t always show you the best opportunities, only the most popular and competitive.

Don't use Google for grant prospecting

An effective grant database, however, will help you focus your efforts and find good-fit funders faster.

A grant database is a searchable online repository or platform with information about available grants. These databases typically include details about grantors, eligibility criteria, application deadlines, and application procedures.


A good grant database will possess the following characteristics:

  • Comprehensive listing from diverse sources.
  • Accurate and up-to-date grant information.
  • An intuitive interface that isn’t frustrating to navigate.
  • Detailed funder profiles.
  • Search and filtering tools to narrow your results.
  • Alerts on new opportunities.

These key characteristics ensure that users can efficiently find and apply for relevant grant opportunities while relying on accurate and up-to-date information.

Now, let’s go deeper and outline what you should be thinking about when assessing different grant databases.

How to Choose The Best Grant Database for Your Nonprofit

Here’s how to evaluate each grant database so it fits your needs.

Pricing:

  • Consider your budget for a grant database.
  • Compare cost against features offered.
  • Prices range from around $150/year to $30-$200/month.

Popularity Among Nonprofits:

  • Seek word-of-mouth recommendations.
  • Consult reviews on grant database websites and unbiased platforms like Google or G2.

How to Choose The Best Grant Database for Your NonprofitFeatures Offered:

  • Look for a grant database that offers comprehensive reporting tools for data sharing, efficient grant tracking with deadline alerts, advanced search options including keywords, categories, and funding types, as well as contact information for funders
  • The quality of support a grant database offers is worth considering. Team members may want to access resources like webinars, guides, and customer support while learning how to best use the database.

Types of Grants Listed:

  • Identify the types of grants you are seeking (local, state, federal, foundations, research institutes, etc.).
  • Choose a database that encompasses these grant types.

Ease of Use:

  • Ensure the database simplifies the grant searching process rather than just confusing you.
  • Look for user-friendly features like keyword searching, smart matching, and straightforward search options.

Find Your Next Grant

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The Best Grants Databases for Nonprofit Fundraising

Below, we break down the best and most widely used grant databases.

Of course, we want to highlight our grant database, Instrumentl and make our case for why we feel it’s the best. 

We know we’re biased, but we’re transparent about our strengths and what kinds of nonprofits and consultants benefit the most from our platform. 

1. Instrumentl: Best For Year-Round Grant Research and Grant Management

We believe Instrumentl to be the best grant database for nonprofits and grant writers.

Instrumentl's database has over 410,000 funders and 17,000+ active opportunities for nonprofits. It's the most comprehensive source of funding opportunities for nonprofits and is always growing

The fact that the database is constantly updating for freshness is an often-cited reason for choosing Instrumentl.
Instrumentl isn’t just a grant database but a grant management platform for the entire grant lifecycle.

On top of the database, Instrumentl also offers a suit of grant tracking tools so teams can bring their siloed and often inefficient grant work into one place.

 Best suited for:

  • Nonprofits that research grants year-round, building a diverse portfolio of grant funding opportunities.
  • Nonprofit consultants that service several clients who need continual updates on new grant opportunities.

What are the strengths?

Customers who get the most value out of Instrumentl often repeat a few key things. They are…

  • The accuracy with which Instrumentl can match you with grants that are actually relevant and in a fraction of the time
  • How Instrumentl brings order to a nonprofit’s grant work so that teams can sleep at night, not worrying about missing a deadline
  • That everything related to grants is in one place so that teams can work together effectively and win more grants

Let’s talk more about matches in Instrumentl.

Instrumentl matches you with the most relevant grant opportunities


Instrumentl’s grant matches resemble an email inbox. 

Instrumentl matches you with relevant grants

The matches are all on the left; when you click on a grant to explore it in more detail, the results expand on the right.

Instrumentl cruches each funder's 990 filings to create easy-to-skim insights

What are the weaknesses?

We are transparent about our platform. It’s a premium grant management tool and isn’t the cheapest database on the market. There are plenty of other tools out there that do just one or two of the things Instrumentl offers. 

If you want to centralize your grant work and raise more, more efficiently, adopting Instrumentl as your all-in-one tool is how you will get the most value from the platform. 

Conversely, if you search for grants only once or twice a year, other services like Grants.gov have federal opportunities, and your local library usually offers free access to Foundation Directory Online

Learn why the investment is worthwhile through a 14-day free trial; no credit card required. 

What are the noteworthy features?

What separates Instrumentl from other grant platforms is that when Instrumentl matches you with grants, you get matched with two things:

  1. Active grant opportunities (open RFPs in our database that anyone can pursue)
  2. Funder matches (individual foundations that don’t have any active grant opportunities right now but may be a good idea to build a relationship with.)

Funder matches are often invite-only funders who don’t publicly share their opportunities. But we’re able to analyze their historical 990 forms and funding cycles to decipher that they have funded nonprofits like yours and may fund you.

A Funder Match is a funder without a website or may not currently have an open grant. But they are relevant to your nonprofit and may fund you in the future.

Grant writers and nonprofit teams that use Instrumentl also cite our rich funder insights because they offer quick, at-a-glance reports on funders. Terri, a consultant using Instrumentl, said this when sharing what she liked most about Instrumentl:

“The compactness of the listings— you can see the who, what and how, plus financial insights about the funder [all] in one place.”


Side note:
We crunch a lot of data in our funder insights. To learn more about how to determine if a funder is a good fit, learn how to analyze a funder’s historical 990 data.

2. Foundation Directory Online: Search For Public & Private Foundation Funding


Foundation Directory Online (FDO) specializes in public and private foundation funding across the United States. If you pay for the highest subscription level (ranges from $126.58-219.99 a month), you will gain access to over 200,000 opportunities.

If you are looking specifically for foundation funding, FDO can be a great resource due to its comprehensive database and search features.

Best suited for:

  • Nonprofits interested in foundation funding

What are the strengths?

The main strength of FDO is its detailed information for the public and private foundation sector:

  • Detailed search and filtering capabilities on grantmakers and their funding history
  • Comprehensive information on grant and application guidelines for grant writers
  • Funding trend analyses that illustrate funding trends and patterns
  • Provides unique information on foundations that are not found on the web
Foundation Directory Online


Do a quick search right from the Foundation Directory Online homepage.

What are its weaknesses?

The main weakness we saw is that it doesn’t offer search capabilities for Requests for Proposals (RFPs) beyond foundations. As a foundation grants database, it is very useful, but if you are looking for local, state, or federal government grants, you will want to use Instrumentl over the FDO.

If you prefer to have access whenever and wherever you need it, you will need to purchase a membership starting at approximately $49.99/month. 

What are the noteworthy features?

One good feature of this database is that many public locations (such as libraries) provide free access to it for nonprofits and others. You can use the lookup feature to find a free access location near you. 

Foundation Directory Online is also relatively easy to use due to helpful features such as keyword searching, linking to 990s, and information on work that has previously been funded by the foundation.


Search options are organized by location, price, and type.

Your nonprofit can also set up a recipient profile and then search for matches. The database also provides access to a funder profile for each funder which provides many details on the foundations, including contacts.

3. GrantStation: National and International Searches


If you are interested in searching for international grant opportunities as well as funding within the United States, GrantStation is a popular option. It doesn’t have the same advanced features as other grant databases, but it does offer a selection of grant writing tools and is user-friendly for beginner searchers.

GrantStation


Many foundations were looking for grant opportunities specifically related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and still do today.

Best suited for:

  • Small nonprofits interested in national and international options

What are the strengths?

In addition to featuring both national and international search options, many users have found GrantStation helpful because of the following:

  • Keyword searching to organize the selection of grant opportunities and funding priorities
  • Proposal writing, research, and grant management help
  • Webinars, blog posts, newsletters, grant writing training, and other opportunities to get advice from experts
  • Ease of use and flexible pricing

As noted above, the pricing is also a benefit since there are many ways to receive a discount so that your nonprofit doesn’t have to pay the hefty $699/year price tag. For example, you can receive a free membership if you subscribe to the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

What are the weaknesses?

GrantStation does not provide robust foundation profiles compared to Instrumentl. For an example, check out this example of a funder's profile 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.

Learn more about the differences between GrantStation and other grant tools.

What are the noteworthy features?

The funder profiles within GrantStation are popular with nonprofits because they include:

  • Current funding priorities
  • Grant guidelines
  • Application deadlines
  • Specific notes about certain funders 

You can see an example funder profile below:

GrantStation


If you are looking for a site that gives comprehensive information for both national and international funding opportunities, GrantStation is a good choice.

4. Local and State Government Websites: Government Grants


Your local and state government websites are a great place to start when looking specifically for government grants. In particular, these databases are helpful if your nonprofit already knows that the funders have an interest in your local work.

For example, California has a “California Grants Portal” that claims it is the one destination in which nonprofits can find all of the grants offered by California state agencies:

California Grants Portal


Best suited for:

  • Small nonprofits
  • Medium nonprofits
  • Large nonprofits

What are the strengths?

The main strength of using local and government websites is to find grants in your own backyard. The information will be specific to the local and state-level funding opportunities. Other strengths include:

  • These sites are free of charge – you simply need to search at the city, county, or state level to find potential funding opportunities.
  • The funders may already have a relationship with your nonprofit because they are at a local level.

What are the weaknesses?

Because these sites are not specifically designed for grant research, it may be a bit harder to find what you are looking for when compared to sites that are specifically designed as a grant database. However, if you know of local or state funding opportunities already, these sites can be a great resource.

What are the noteworthy features?

An added bonus of using local or state government websites to search for grants is the fact that your nonprofit organization may already have relationships with local and even state contacts. These relationships are unique to these sites and will help increase your likelihood of success with these funders.

5. Grants.gov: Federal Grants from Numerous Sectors


If your nonprofit is interested in federal grants offered by United States government agencies, one of the first places you should go is to grants.gov. This is by far the best grant database for federal grants (along with the National Institutes of Health site, the NIH grant database) – and some state-level opportunities as well.

Grants.Gov


Best suited for:

  • Small nonprofits
  • Medium nonprofits
  • Large nonprofits

What are the strengths?

You do need to set up a free account to use grants.gov, but after that there are numerous strengths to using grants.gov, including the following:

  • Thousands of federal grants from various sectors
  • The grant database is completely free to use
  • Keyword searching options for a more precise search
  • They have a mobile app so you can search for grants on the go
  • There is helpful information about federal grants

The keyword search options, in particular are very helpful to finding a grant that aligns with your nonprofit’s mission and goals. You can even search by the following specifications:

  • Opportunity status (i.e., forecasted, posted, closed, archived)
  • Funding instrument type – cooperative agreements, grants, etc.
  • Eligibility requirements
  • Specific categories
  • Specific federal agencies

What are the weaknesses?

The main problem with this being the primary site for federal grants is that there is a massive amount of information available. Because there are so many opportunities listed through this database, you may find you are sifting through the site to identify the best opportunities for your nonprofit.

This is why it may be helpful to know which government entity you are seeking funding from, or have information about a specific funding opportunity. That way, you can use the keyword search tool to find that grant opportunity quickly.

What are the noteworthy features?

Grants.gov is definitely the number one centralized location for federal grants. It also is helpful to nonprofits because it gives access to “Request for Proposals” for all funding opportunities and links to the application documents. Other noteworthy features include:

  • A streamlined search process in one platform
  • Email notifications for new relevant grant opportunities
  • A massive amount of resources and guidance of the entire grant application and management process

With thousands of grant programs available, grants.gov is a user-friendly grants database to search and apply for federal grant opportunities across numerous sectors.

6. GrantSelect: National and International Grants For Numerous Sectors


Another good choice if you are looking for international as well as national grants is GrantSelect. GrantSelect offers a strong assortment of funding opportunities from multiple sources in both the United States and internationally.

Whether you are looking for local, state, or federal grants, grants from corporate institutions, or even from other nonprofit organizations, you may be able to find them on GrantSelect.

GrantSelect


You can request your free trial for GrantSelect to see if it is right for your nonprofit.

Best suited for:

  • Large nonprofits looking for international opportunities

What are the strengths?

Similar to GrantStation, the main strength of GrantSelect is that it has an international focus. However, the benefits don’t stop there:

  • User-friendly search features by subject, funder, and grant type
  • Robust grant database
  • A diverse group of grant funding opportunities, including federal, state, local, corporate, foundations.
  • A strong emphasis on research grants and fellowships
  • Regularly updated listings
  • Three different subscription options

The user-friendly search methods and regularly updated grant listings make GrantSelect a great choice for grant funding from all over the world. In addition, you can choose from the Standard ($150/month) or Professional subscription ($495/year), or subscribe as an Institution (quotes vary).

What are the weaknesses?

There are free trial subscriptions for GrantSelect, but they are only made available for staff, faculty, and administrators who work at academic institutions or in libraries. If you are outside the education sector, you’re out of luck for a free trial.

If you want to try a grant database for free, you’ll want to use Instrumentl because it gives you a free trial for 14 days, no matter what sector you work in.

What are the noteworthy features?

GrantSelect is a beneficial resource for nonprofits that are seeking grant funding from various sectors. If you are one of the following sectors, you will benefit from GrantSelect:

  • Arts and Culture
  • Biomedical and Health Care
  • Children and Youth
  • Community and Economic Development
  • Education
  • Environment and Conservation
  • Faith-Based Programs
  • Humanities
  • International Programs
  • Operating Grants
  • Research
  • Scholarships
  • Special Populations

GrantSelect also has Requests for Applications (RFA) and Public Announcements (PA) numbers for grants you would normally find on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant database. In addition, the site is frequently updated so you will continuously have access to the latest and greatest grant funding information.

7. Grant Gopher: For U.S.-based Nonprofits and Educational Institutions


Our final pick is for nonprofits and educational institutions based in the United States – Grant Gopher. If you are a nonprofit or educational institution, it is an easy-to-use, convenient grant database to learn about and use for grant funding applications.

Grant Gopher


You can search for grant opportunities quickly by your state, county, and program area.

Best suited for:

  • Small nonprofits
  • Educational institutions

What are the strengths?

Grant Gopher has a strong focus on nonprofit and educational funding opportunities. Other strengths include:

  • The search platform is both simple and powerful and can search based on county, state, program area, or using keywords based on your preferences and needs
  • Alerts and advanced search options
  • A resource library with resources and tools

What are the weaknesses?

This site is only available for U.S.-based organizations, so anyone who is international will not be able to access or use this grant portal.

What are the noteworthy features?

A unique feature of Grant Gopher is its calendar feature, which allows users to track and manage grant deadlines. That way, you’ll always be on time with your grant proposal submissions.

In addition, its resource library has a vast array of tools and resources to help you write successful grant proposals and manage your grant projects.

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Additional Resources For Finding Grants

In addition to grant databases, you can find funders and their grants the old way by digging into each of their websites.

Instrumentl’s Free United States Grant Database

Although Instrumentl is a grant management platform, you can explore available grants in your state by using our U.S. Grant Database

Explore the grants landscape in your state

The database will show you key stats on each state’s grant landscape. 

  • Average grant size in that state
  • Number of grants awarded
  • Most popular focus areas or causes supported
  • If grant funding is growing or shrinking over time

For example, in California, you can see that grant funding has been increasing since 2021.

Grant funding in California has been growing overtime

Try it yourself. Explore your state’s grant landscape.

Corporation or Corporate Giving Websites


Corporation or corporate giving websites are a great place to start if you’re looking for corporate grants. 

They are free of charge and do a pretty good job of listing the priorities of the funder. Some things to keep in mind with this option:

  • Funding is limited to offers from specific companies or corporations; that is, each website only lists funding offered for that specific corporation.
  • You may need previous knowledge of what you are looking for.
  • There is usually good information on past awards.
  • Convenient use of online applications, accessible through the corporate giving site.

These sites are a great source of specific information about corporate giving, but you will not be able to use them as your only source when searching for grants.

To give you an idea of what you might find on a corporate giving website, here is a screenshot from the Wells Fargo Foundation.

Wells Fargo Foundation


The Wells Fargo Foundation impacts both local and national opportunities.

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.

Walmart Giving


Walmart frequently offers Requests for Proposals through their foundation webpage.

Note: See a list of the top corporate funders.

Community Foundation Websites


Another good resource when searching for grants is the websites of community foundations in your town, city, region, or state. These sites can be a great resource for local and regional funding opportunities and are free to access.

 Community foundation websites are particularly popular among nonprofits because:

  • You will already know that the funder is interested in supporting your local area or region.
  • They are helpful for grant writers or consultants working on a project or with an organization in a specific location.
  • They do a good job of clearly stating funding priorities
  • They provide information on past awards.
  • There should be contact information for program officers or others who you can connect with to learn more.

One drawback is that these sites will only list opportunities through one specific community foundation. So, you should already have an interest in a specific funding opportunity if you want these sites to be helpful.

They would not be your only source of grant research but could be a good additional resource to keep in mind.

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.

Another 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 one through a simple internet search. You could also reach out through your nonprofit association to learn if there are community foundations nearby that fund your locale.

Here is a screenshot of previously funded work from the Wayne County Community Foundation.

Wayne County Community Foundation


This is one example of how a foundation clearly lists past grants awarded so you can see if they align with your own nonprofit’s needs.

Wrapping Things Up: The Best Grant Databases for Nonprofits & Grant Writers

Whether you work directly with a nonprofit or are a freelance grant writer/consultant, grant databases are an excellent tool to help you in your grant writing efforts.

If you’re ready to start finding more relevant grants, try Instrumentl’s free, 14-day free trial. It will take you less than 5 minutes to get started and it’s the best way to find hundreds of best-fit grants.

Don’t take our word for it. Dr. Bev Browning, the author of Grant Writing For Dummies, said,

“Instrumentl does in about 20 minutes what used to take me 40 hours.”


If you’re tired of spending weeks searching for grants the old way, get started with Instrumentl, the future of grant research and management.

Karen Lee

Karen Lee

Karen Lee, an Account Executive at Instrumentl, is an onboarding specialist who is passionate about teaching both beginner and expert grant seekers best practices in uncovering new potential ​​prospects, evaluating funding opportunities, and systemizing the end-to-end fundraising cycle from prospect research to awarded grants.

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