Prospect research is a critical component of any successful fundraising strategy. Grant discovery platforms like Instrumentl can support grant research and help nonprofits build out robust grants programs, helping to expertly identify new sources of revenue to support their work for years to come.
The following article will summarize and analyze three grant tools—FoundationSearch vs. GrantHub vs. Instrumentl. This resource will guide you through the features of each grant discovery platform, noting key differences and similarities and helping you identify which platform is the best choice to meet the needs of your nonprofit organization.
Let’s dive in!
FoundationSearch vs. GrantHub vs. Instrumentl Features
The first step to determining which grants discovery platform is the best fit for your nonprofit organization is to identify and evaluate each of their key features.
In this section, we will walk you through the following:
Finding Funders and RFPs
Tracking Prospects and Submissions
Collaboration and Reporting
Before diving into each of these platforms’ features, here is a brief overview of each:
FoundationSearch is a grant discovery platform that has been available since 1995. For decades they have provided tools, resources, and guidance to over 13,000 nonprofit organizations.
GrantHub is a grants management platform managed by Foundant Technologies, a company that helps organizations leverage the power and support of the philanthropic sector through technology based resources and solutions.
Instrumentl is a comprehensive, high-quality fundraising tool that incorporates grant and foundation discovery, project tracking, reporting, and collaboration together into one holistic platform that helps nonprofits of any size identify lucrative opportunities that closely align with their work, values, and priorities.
Instrumentl emphasizes efficiency, leveraging grant discovery tools within a well-designed, easy-to-use interface to propel nonprofits toward success. Instrumentl also offers unique supplementary resources including grant writing courses, e-books, guides, and webinars to ensure nonprofits have all the information at their disposal to build a successful fundraising strategy.
Finding Funders and RFPs
FoundationSearch Finding Funders and RFPs
FoundationSearch offers members a large database of over 120,000 foundations and grantmaking organizations.
FoundationSearch’s search function lets users search for foundations by focus area and grantmaking category (e.g. arts and culture, education, human services), foundation type (private foundations, public charities, company sponsored foundations, and community foundations), type of support (e.g. emergency funds, capital campaigns, research projects, seed funding,, etc.) assets and income range, and geographic area.
Additionally, FoundationSearch’s “My Best Prospects” tool offers basic foundation matching, identifying grantmakers that align with nonprofits’ objectives, missions, visions, and priorities.
While FoundationSearch has a large searchable database of foundations, it is limited in its ability to directly connect nonprofits to current opportunities. The platform does not offer a database for active RFPs or grant opportunities, meaning additional research will need to be done to determine if foundations have open opportunities and if those specific opportunities are a good fit for your nonprofit.
GrantHub Finding Funders and RFPs:
Unfortunately, GrantHub does not offer many tools that allow nonprofits to identify grantmakers and connect to opportunities.
Unlike Instrumentl and FoundationSearch which focus on prospect research and grant discovery, GrantHub’s primary focus is on grant and project management.
Their grant discovery tools are incredibly limited or nonexistent, with the few resources they offer supported by other grant discovery databases. GrantHub connects users to searchable databases for RFPs and Foundation profiles via their partner platforms—GrantStation and Guidestar (powered by Candid and associated with Foundation Directory Online).
While these external tools can be useful in their own right, switching between multiple platforms can make the prospecting process cumbersome. Moreover, GrantStation and Guidestar have their own limitations that can make identifying grantmakers and opportunities difficult, especially with smaller nonprofits without a strong background in grants management.
Instrumentl Finding Funders and RFPs:
Instrumentloffers a robust database for both foundations and active RFPs. What sets Instrumentl apart is its smart matching system, connecting nonprofit organizations with active grants and RFPs that are aligned with the nonprofits’ mission, specific project needs and requirements, and/or organizational objectives.
This one of a kind system makes prospect research far less laborious, simplifying the process of identifying organizations and opportunities that are in strong alignment with the organization.
Instrumentl tracks active opportunities, frequently updating foundation and RFP profiles to indicate changes to deadlines, priorities, requirements, and any additional crucial details or information.
The platform has a searchable database of active RFPs from disparate grantmaking organizations. This includes private, foundation, and corporate grants as well as federal and state level grants.
Moreover, Instrumentl streamlines the research process by making grants searchable by location and focus area. This allows nonprofits to narrow their focus and target opportunities that are more likely to result in a successful application.
Instrumentl’s system pulls data directly from grantmakers’ 990 forms and synthesizes the information to provide comprehensive, accurate, and high-quality funder profiles. Each profile includes the foundation’s geographic area of focus, category or field of work (identified via NTEE code), and year-by-year grant averages and median grant amounts.
With Instrumentl, users can also find grants and foundations searching by focus area and/or programmatic activities. Some of the searchable focus areas are:
When it comes to identifying grant prospects, Instrumentl works to surpass expectations and provide an optimal user experience.
Tracking Prospects and Submissions
FoundationSearch Tracking Capabilities:
FoundationSearch lets users utilize its “My Prospect Manager” tool to create projects based on grant opportunities and foundations they identify through the research process.
The “My Prospect Manager” tool helps users focus on specific areas of need within their organization, allowing them to track specific amounts to be fundraised and the deadlines by which funding will need to be obtained. With the “My Prospect Manager” function, users can link their projects to search queries and keep track of each foundation profile or grant opportunity by project.
My Prospect Manager is an excellent tool for self-accountability, tracking projects, and organizing results. Unfortunately, FoundationSearch’s system lacks any updates or tracking capabilities for active RFPs. This means that the burden is on the nonprofit to keep track of any changes to grant deadlines, changes to requirements, or updates.
GrantHub Tracking Capabilities:
What GrantHub lacked in its profiles of active RFPs and foundations it makes up for in its tracking capabilities.
Not only does GrantHub allow users to track application deadlines but it also tracks milestones throughout the entire grants process, keeping users informed of deadlines for reports, letters of intent (LOI), and other key due dates.
The system allows users to generate specific tasks and incorporate them into the project workflow such as budget creation, final reviews, site visits, follow ups, and research.
Instrumentl Tracking Capabilities:
Instrumentl’s system provides tracking and grant management capabilities that (like GrantHub) allow users to create and track key milestones throughout the entire grant process.
Users can create and track specific actions associated with specific grant opportunities. What’s more, Instrumentl’s tracking features allow users to upload and store important documents, files, and information related to the grant or project.
Instrumentl is committed to keeping users up to date on everything regarding foundations and RFPs.
Given this, Instrumentl sends users prompt email notifications whenever funders make changes to their priorities, requirements, or deadlines, ensuring nonprofits can focus on generating proposals instead of tracking changes to the funding opportunities on their own.
Collaboration and Reporting
FoundationSearch Collaboration and Reporting Features:
FoundationSearchdoes not offer many multi-user functions or features.
Once a nonprofit signs up for membership with FoundationSearch, multiple users at the organization can access the platform. However, once multiple users have gained access, their ability to collaborate on tasks and generate reports is limited.
GrantHub Collaboration and Reporting Features:
GrantHubprovides users with several functions that enable strong multi-user collaboration and comprehensive reporting capabilities.
One of the main components of GrantHub’s tracking interface is the ability to allow users to set tasks not just for themselves but for others. GrantHub gives users the option to set tasks for team members and identify specific elements of proposals, reports, or other projects that they require from other individuals from their organization with access to the platform.
Not only can users set tasks in the system itself, but they can send automated emails to other users with reminders and updates about tasks that require their attention.
GrantHub also offers functions that make reporting a breeze, allowing users to export pipelines into easy to read CSV and PDF reports.
Instrumentl Collaboration and Reporting Features:
Instrumentl offers users a comprehensive slate of workflow functions that make the entire grant process more structured, collaborative, and organized. The collaborative tools available through Instrumentl’s interface allow the entire grants team to work together on proposals while managing other tasks and projects without missing a beat.
The platform gives users the capability to store and create notes as well as assign tasks to fellow users across the organization, keeping the grants process moving forward efficiently. The ability to track different projects and assign others tasks keeps the workflows simple and organized so nothing falls through the cracks.
Instrumentl also provides users with the ability to create comprehensive reports within the system. Grant reports can be exported into PDF and CSV that are easy to read documents that the entire team can access.
FoundationSearch Customer Support Tools:
FoundationSearch offers a variety of options for customer support depending on the user’s questions, issues, or needs.
The primary customer support tool FoundationSearch offers is their Help Desk. The Help Desk provides members with support for general account questions, registration, access and guidance with resources, and detailed information on registration for training, webinars, and other professional development courses offered via the platform.
For urgent and immediate needs, FoundationSearch has a toll free 1-800 number and for questions that can await a response they have a support email address as well. For users who are just getting started with the platform, FoundationSearch offers a FAQ and various help documents that provide explanations on the platform’s functions and processes.
GrantHubCustomer Support Tools:
GrantHub also offers a variety of customer support options from chat support to self-paced training.
GrantHub provides users with educational resources that are available on an ongoing basis which include FAQs that explain the platform’s processes and features, how-to video tutorials, podcasts, and webinars about GrantHub insights and sector specific learning modules.
Additionally, GrantHub offers users unlimited email, chat, and phone support for urgent questions that require a prompt response. Uniquely, the platform also hosts an online community called Compass where users can take advantage of peer-to-peer learning, collaboration, and sharing about GrantHub and other resources.
Instrumentl: Customer Support Tools:
Instrumentl’scustomer support team is deeply committed to high-quality assistance and support to their users, ensuring each member has a firm understanding of the platform and has access to the required tools and resources needed to build a strong fundraising program.
Instrumentl’s customer support team offers support in the following ways:
A half hour onboarding call for all users who opt into Intrumentl’s 14-day free trial to discuss the user’s primary objectives for using Instrumentl and how the team at Instrumentl can position users for long term success
FoundationSearch vs. GrantHub vs. Instrumentl Pricing
You now have a strong grasp of FoundationSearch, GrantHub, and Instrumentl’s features and hopefully have started coming toward a conclusion about which platform might work best for meeting your nonprofit’s needs. Great!
While these features are crucial to identifying the best platform, it is also vital to know how their pricing structures compare to each other.
Let’s take a look!
FoundationSearch does not have a formalized price structure available to users. FoundationSearch’s parent company, Metasoft, offers a wide variety of price points that differ depending on the size, scope, objectives, and needs of the user organization.
Subscription packages are available for disparate lengths, between 1 and 5 years. Contact FoundationSearch directly for a quote.
GrantHub’s pricing structure is fairly straightforward.
Subscriptions begin at $75/month, providing access for up to 35 users, 20 GB of storage, and unlimited customer support. If users choose, they can opt into their annual plan at $795/year (a greater value with a month to month price of $66.25).
Instrumentl provides several options for pricing plans that vary depending on the objectives and needs of the user organization.
The price of Instrumentl’s Basic plan is $195/month. Should users opt to pay annually, the cost is brought down to $179/month.
Instrumentl provides a special guarantee for their Pro and Standard Plans ($499/month and $299/month respectively). Instrumentl offers a full month free for both packages so that users can get a sense of what is offered with the freedom to switch back to a basic subscription at the end of the trial.
Setting Instrumentl apart is their customizable plan, an option that is made available for large scale nonprofits, healthcare groups, universities, or hospitals.
Custom plans allow for an unlimited number of users to access the system and for an unlimited number of different projects to be created. This is perfect for major organizations that require a large number of individuals, teams, and workflows.
Customizable plans and professional plans unlock the full scope of Instrumentl’s features, including personalized training and support, as well as calendar and Salesforce integration.
Undecided? Not a problem! Instrumentl also offers a 14-day free trial to support nonprofits who are working to build a strong grants program and are still trying to decide which platform will be best for them.
What Are Customers Saying About FoundationSearch, GrantHub, and Instrumentl?
We understand that advice from peers is the best way to identify a great product. Below are customer reviews of each platform detailing pros, cons, and other information about their experience using the platforms.
A review of customer feedback for FoundationSearch indicated that users liked the search functions and were especially pleased with FoundationSearch’s customer support services.
While the majority of the reviews were positive, some noted that improvements to the design and layout of the interface could make the site easier to navigate and improve readability.
Others noted that the cost of FoundationSearch is most likely too high for smaller nonprofits and organizations. It’s also important to note that the only reviews available for FoundationSearch were from their own website.
Reviews forGrantHub were generally positive as well. Many users praised the platform's tracking capabilities noting that it is intuitive and that it makes organizing grant proposals and processes a simple task.
However, some reviews stated that they experienced bugs when using the platform, notably the reporting features leaving out content, certain features that did not work at all, and content disappearing after trying to save.
Instrumentl users provided praise and positive feedback to their experiences using the platform. Many users especially liked Instrumentl’s customizable features and intuitive approach to prospect research and grant management.
One such review stated that having the platform was like “having another team member” while another called Instrumentl “a grant writer’s best friend”.
The platform also received overwhelming praise for its customer support. Users noted how helpful team members were when they first signed up, walking them through the platform’s features and identifying how users could best leverage the tools to meet their objectives.
Wrapping Up: FoundationSearch vs. GrantHub vs. Instrumentl: Which Tool is Best for You in 2023?
With the detailed evaluation and analysis of FoundationSearch and GrantHub and Instrumentl, you now have all the information and resources you need to identify the best grant discovery platform for your organization.
Don’t wait—visit Instrumentl’s website today to start your 14-day trial.
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