Finding the right grant discovery and management platform for your nonprofit can be a challenge. To make things easier, we’ve researched three of the top grant platforms available today: Instrumentl, Foundation Directory Online, and GrantHub.
In this article, we will compare each of these platforms by their features, pricing, and user reviews so that you can make an informed decision about which service meets your organization’s fundraising needs.
Let’s get started.
FDO vs. GrantHub vs. Instrumentl Features
The first step in trying to find out which grant discovery platform is right for you is to compare their features to see if they meet your needs. To better compare each services’ strengths and weaknesses, we separated their tools into three categories that are representative of the work required to find grants and create a successful proposal.
Finding New RFPs & Funders
Finding new potential funding opportunities is key to securing more money for your nonprofit. The best grant discovery platform will not only offer a robust database, but it will also make the researching process easier, faster, and more efficient.
Instrumentl Finding New RFPs & Funders Features:
Instrumentl has a comprehensive and curated database of active RFPs that include corporate, public, and foundation funding sources. Instrumentl’s database also includes funder profiles that are easy to read without compromising the quantity and quality of the information provided.
Instrumentl’s search features allow you to look for grants based on their geographic location, category of interest, and more. You can even do a “reverse search” to see what grants nonprofits similar to yours have applied to in the past.
Instrumentl’s smart matching feature is one of the tools that sets it apart from its competitors. The smart matching feature is constantly comparing your projects with potential funders, and it automatically provides you with a list of good-fit funding opportunities.
Foundation Directory Online Finding New RFPs & Funders Features:
Similar to Instrumentl, their “reverse search” feature allows you to find new funding opportunities by looking at what grants nonprofits similar to yours applied to in the past. You also have the option of searching through their database by grantmaker or by 990s.
That being said, their RFPs are rather limited. Rather than providing users with information on active grant opportunities, they mostly focus on funder profile information.
GrantHub Finding New RFPs & Funders Features:
When it comes to grant discovery, GrantHub is reliant on the information provided by GrantStation.
That is not to say that they do not provide their users with any information on grants or that they do not have funder profiles. Rather, it simply means that they are not built with the goal of finding grant opportunities, forcing their users to rely on other services if they wish to have assistance uncovering new grants.
Even so, with GrantHub’s limited capacity, you can still find basic reliable information on the following:
Types of projects successfully funded in the past
Funder history, priority, and future goals
Tracking Prospect Research & Submissions
Tracking and management tools are crucial when it comes to applying for grants. This is especially true if you are juggling multiple applications, multiple projects, or have numerous people on your team. Keeping your workflow organized not only increases efficiency, it also helps with the grant writing process.
The best grant discovery platform should do more than just help you find new grants. It should also help you manage them by offering a robust set of tools that are adaptable to each user’s needs and preferences.
Instrumentl Tracking Prospect Research & Submission Tools:
Instrumentl packs a lot of grant management features into an intuitive workspace. To maximize efficiency and simplicity, everything is kept in one place so that you can easily manage multiple grants that are at varying stages.
Some of Instrumentl’s tracking and management features include:
Trackers that help you manage multiple projects at once
Grant calendar that helps you strategize for future grants
Automagical deadline reminders
Updates when funders change priorities or deadlines
The ability to store notes and log your prospects
All of these tools help optimize efficiency so that you and your team can go through the grant application process as smoothly as possible without any extra work. It is no wonder, then, why Instrumentl is so highly regarded among professional grant writers and consultants.
Foundation Directory Online Tracking Prospect Research & Submission Tools:
Unfortunately, grant management is not the area in which FDO shines. While a great database to find information on funders, FDO’s features beyond the research stage are incredibly limited.
That is not because FDO is fully lacking. In fact, they’ve recently taken steps to offer their users more management tools via a dashboard that permits the creation of projects, the upkeep of a contact list, and the assigning of tasks.
However, as of now, FDO remains primarily a grant discovery platform, and not a management one.
GrantHub Tracking Prospect Research & Submission Tools:
While GrantHub did not have many discovery features, tracking and management is where this platform excels.
Built so that you can better monitor all of your different grants, GrantHub’s tracker lets you easily see what tasks have been checked off your to-do list and which ones still need completing.
Just like Instrumentl, GrantHub also has a practical calendar that will remind you of important dates so that you can strategize accordingly. However, there are no automatic reminders so you might at times need to double-check to ensure you are still on track to meet your deadlines.
Collaboration & Reporting
In the nonprofit world, teamwork is the key to success. Whether you’re a small group of dedicated volunteers or a larger organization with an entire fundraising team, multiple people are required for a successful grant application process.
The best grant platform, then, will facilitate collaboration.
Instrumentl Collaboration & Reporting Features:
Instrumentl makes working together seamless with its intuitive collaboration features. You can assign tasks to different individuals on your team and keep tabs on what everyone is doing so that you all can stay on the same page.
Instrumentl also provides a shared document library which can save your team from having to constantly look up and email resources back and forth. You can also easily export your grant pipeline into CSV and PDF reports.
Foundation Directory Online Collaboration & Reporting Features:
FDO offers extremely limited online collaboration tools which makes it difficult to work as a team on the platform.
However, in terms of reporting, FDO has reporting features that allow you to export your work into easy-to-read files.
GrantHub Collaboration & Reporting Features:
GrantHub permits up to 35 users in one single account. This means that unless your fundraising team exceeds this number, you should easily be able to work together on multiple projects.
In terms of reporting, GrantHub provides pre-built templates and the ability to export work into Excel, PDF, or print.
Other Standout Features
Below, you’ll find a breakdown of other features that make these platforms stand out.
Instrumentl does more than provide its users with the tools they need to find and win grants. Instrumentl also gives users a vast number of educational resources so that they can learn more about the nonprofit industry, keep up with trends, and experiment with new strategies to help their organization grow.
FDO is part of Candid—a 501c3 nonprofit organization that connects those in the nonprofit world with the tools and information they need to thrive.
As such, when you sign up for an FDO account, you also gain access to some of Candid’s other tools, including Candid Learning, their online educational resources.
Perhaps one of GrantHub’s most outstanding features is its Answer Library. By saving your previous responses within the platform itself, you can create templates and put your focus on personalizing your proposal.
FDO vs. GrantHub vs. Instrumentl Pricing
Now that you know the features of each of these platforms, it is time to compare their pricing.
With four different plans available, Instrumentl makes it easy to find the plan that meets your needs and price point.
These are Instrumentl’s four subscriptions and their pricing plans:
Basic Subscription – annual plan costs $179 per month, monthly plan costs $195 per month
Standard Subscription – annual plan costs $299 per month, monthly plan costs $326 per month
Professional Subscription – annual plan costs $499 per month, monthly plan costs $544 per month
The Custom Plan for universities, hospitals and healthcare providers, and larger nonprofits. A custom quote is provided based on your unique needs.
These are the main differences between the Basic, Standard, and Professional subscriptions:
Number of projects increases with each tier
Features such as Foundation Discovery, Advanced Funder Insight, Recipient Profiles, Calendar Views, and Grant Ownership are available for Standard Plan and above
Personalized Support and Training, Sales Force Integration, and Calendar Integration available for Professional and Custom Plans
FDO offers three different subscription plans. These are:
The Essential subscription is the most basic and most affordable of all three options. It is ideal for smaller nonprofits.
The Professional subscription builds on the foundation of the Essential Plan by offering over double the amount of grantmaker profiles, as well as providing recipient profiles and other funder information.
The Enterprise plan is available to foundations, academic institutions, and other larger organizations and you can request a quote based on your unique needs.
Both the Essential and the Professional subscriptions offer monthly, annual, and two year payment plans.
The pricing options for the Essential subscription are:
Monthly Plan for $54.99 a month
Annual Plan for either $37.42 a month, or a one-time $449.00 payment
Two Year Plan for either $35.54 a month, or a one-time biennial payment of $853.00
And these are the options for the Professional subscription:
Monthly Plan for $219.99 a month
Annual Plan for either $133.25 a month, or a one-time $1,599.00 payment
Two Year Plan for either $126.58 a month, or a one-time biennial payment of $3,038.00
GrantHub’s pricing plans differentiate not in terms of features, but in terms of payment installments and upgrade ability.
Though the annual cost of the Monthly Plan totals $105 more than the Annual Plan, this option gives the flexibility to cancel the subscription at any time. This is better suited for those who are strapped for cash and will only be using the platform for part of the year.
The Annual Plan, despite costing $795 up-front, has a better value. Not only that, it also allows for the purchase of annual upgrades. These include:
An additional 20GB for $150 more per year
An additional 10 users for $150 more per year
Click to find the best grants for your nonprofit from 12,000+ active opportunities.
What Are Customers Saying About FDO, GrantHub, and Instrumentl?
Finally, we’ll finish this comparison by examining real-life reviews of each platform. As different nonprofits have different needs, and as outliers exist on both ends of the spectrum, we’ll look at both positive and negative experiences to see what pattern emerges.
They highlight the convenience of being able to use Instrumentl’s features throughout all parts of the grant lifecycle—from finding new opportunities to tracking and management, and reporting. Having everything in one spot provides for a more efficient workflow, which is especially useful when working with a team.
While some noted that Instrumentl’s many features might offer a steep learning curve for those who are either new to the nonprofit world or who are not as tech-savvy, the tools available more than make-up for such difficulties.
If, however, you’re still struggling, then Instrumentl’s tutorials can teach you how to navigate the platform so you can make the most out of it.
As finding new and obscure funding sources is one of the main draws of a grant discovery platform, an extensive database that provides multiple filters to narrow the scope of the search is key.
Furthermore, FDO’s detailed profiles give users the information they need to craft better, more personalized proposals.
However, there are some concerns over how often said information is updated. When it comes to grants, accurate and up-to-date information is crucial to ensure that your application is not only relevant, but that you are using your time wisely.
Many are satisfied with how GrantHub helps them keep track of their tasks so that they can more easily manage their grant proposals. They credit GrantHub with the ability to keep themselves and their teams on schedule.
Their customer’s service is also highly regarded, answering questions and providing any help or accommodation needed to suit each nonprofit’s unique needs.
However, though GrantHub’s features are viewed as very user-friendly, some still struggle with their website loading correctly and report that the usability can get a little “clunky” when used on smaller screens.
Concerns regarding integration with other softwares were also mentioned.
Wrapping Up: FDO vs. GrantHub vs. Instrumentl: Which Tool is Best for You in 2024?
Finding and managing grants requires a lot of time and patience, which is why finding the best platform is crucial to securing more funds for your cause.
Foundation Directory Online offers an extensive searchable database with information that is helpful for crafting a winning application. GrantHub keeps you organized, on track, and lets your team work together.
However, if you want the best of both worlds in one place, it is clear that Instrumentl is the platform of choice. You can sign up for a free 14 day trial and start finding and applying to new grant opportunities today.
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