If you’re in the process of comparing the best grant discovery platforms, you’ll want to take a moment and read this article.
Here, we’re looking at three top grant platforms: FoundationSearch by Metasoft, GrantStation, and Instrumentl.
We’ll dig into their features, their pricing, their grant management capabilities, and what users are saying. Ready to learn more? Read on.
FoundationSearch vs. GrantStation vs. Instrumentl Features
Before we compare the features of each platform, we’re going to provide a brief overview of each to provide you with some context.
Metasoft’s FoundationSearch is a grant discovery platform based in Vancouver, Canada. For nonprofits operating in Canada, this immediately makes FoundationSearch a tool of great interest. But no worries—FoundationSearch also covers funders in the lower 48 as well as Alaska and Hawaii.
GrantStation is also a good resource for Canadian nonprofits since it also lists Canadian and U.S. funding opportunities. Grantmaker profiles are limited and include private and community foundations, as well as corporate giving and international opportunities.
Instrumentl was created in 2014 as a tech-for-good service designed to help nonprofits connect with institutional donors and raise more money.
Today, Instrumentl serves more than 2,000 nonprofits and grows to serve more each month, thanks to its unique blend of grant discovery, team collaboration, and grant management tools all in one sleek package.
Now that you have context for Instrumentl, FoundationSearch, and GrantStation, we’re going to break down the features of each, including:
Finding new RFPs and funders
Tracking prospect research and submissions
Collaboration and reporting
Finding New RFPs & Funders
FoundationSearch Finding New RFPs & Funders Features:
FoundationSearch allows you to view foundation profiles as well as profiles of recipients of funding. However, it doesn’t allow you to search active RFPs, nor does it have any smart matching capabilities.
The site is based on its BIG(™) Online database, which boasts 145,000 funder profiles, matching gift opportunities, and a repository of winning grant proposals.
GrantStation Finding New RFPs & Funders Features:
GrantStation offers a whole lot more than FoundationSearch does in terms of accessing RFPs. In fact, GrantStation really is a repository of active and archived RFPs. Listings include nonprofits throughout North America (including Canada), as well as U.S. Federal opportunities through Grants.Gov, corporate funders, private funders, and family foundations.
But that’s where the comparison stops. GrantStation doesn’t offer foundation profiles, recipient profiles, or any sort of smart matching capabilities. And, the overall interface of GrantStation is quite outdated. However, it does automatically filter out funders who aren’t actively accepting applications.
Instrumentl Finding RFPs and Funders Features:
Instrumentl makes it easy for you to find good-fit funders thanks to its smart matching to RFPs and foundations. Simply set up your search parameters within your projects and Instrumentl’s smart algorithms will work even when you’ve signed out. Instrumentl’s comprehensive database contains profiles and funding opportunities from private, corporate, and foundation funders.
Depending on your subscription level, you may also be able to search for nonprofits similar to yours and see who has supported them.
Tracking Prospect Research & Submissions
FoundationSearch Tracking Prospect Research & Submissions Tools:
Unfortunately, FoundationSearch offers little in the way of grant tracking and management, meaning you’ll have to rely on another software solution or revert back to using a spreadsheet. There are no reminders of upcoming deadlines, no updates if a funder changes a deadline or a funding priority, and no submission tracker. And, FoundationSearch doesn’t allow users to search for open RFPs.
FoundationSearch is beta testing a feature called My Best Prospect, which they say relies on an algorithm to generate a list of good-fit prospects for your nonprofit. However, as far as we can tell, the feature has still not gone live.
GrantStation Tracking Prospect Research & Submissions Tools:
While GrantStation is beta testing a feature called “My Plan” which allows users to save prospects and notes, it doesn’t provide a submission tracker, a grant calendar, or any automatic reminders.
Instrumentl Tracking Prospect Research & Submissions Tools:
Instrumentl exceeds expectations when it comes to grant management. The software allows you to easily and quickly skim over active opportunities along with detailed funder insights and 990 snapshots. This minimizes the time it takes to discern if a foundation is a good fit.
By creating separate projects, you’ll subsequently receive recommendations for funders. And, if a funder changes focus or a deadline, Instrumentl will alert you immediately.
You’ll also be able to store notes to enhance collaboration, as well as track your submissions in your grants calendar.
Collaboration and Reporting
FoundationSearch Collaboration and Reporting:
FoundationSearch provides a limited amount of team collaboration. They do have a beta version of a full collaboration tool waiting in the wings, but it has not yet gone live. Apparently it will be unified with their existing tool for running reports and saving them as either a PDF or in CSV format.
Unfortunately, FoundationSearch does not offer a shared document library for often-used grant documentation.
GrantStation Collaboration and Reporting:
GrantStation is lacking in collaborative tools. It does allow users to pull reports, but they can only be saved as CSV files.
Instrumentl Collaboration and Reporting:
One of the big differentiators offered by Instrumentl is its robust multi-user collaboration tools. Instrumentl allows managers to assign tasks, pull reports, leave notes, and create a document library your entire team can access.
Instrumentl not only takes the headache out of searching for new funders, but also seamlessly allows users to manage the entire grant lifecycle, from letter of intent to final grant report.
Overall, Instrumentl offers more features than both GrantStation and FoundationSearch. For a list of 8 things only Instrumentl can do, check out this comparison page.
Click to find the best grants for your nonprofit from 12,000+ active opportunities.
FoundationSearch vs. GrantStation vs. Instrumentl Pricing
All of these grant discovery platforms have a variety of pricing plans, but let’s look at what each offers so you can make the most informed choice.
For some reason, FoundationSearch is fairly opaque when it comes to their pricing.
That’s right. There’s absolutely no information available on the FoundationSearch website about how much the service costs to search funding opportunities in both the U.S. and Canada. However, a user on Reddit’s r/nonprofit thread claims FoundationSearch quoted his organization between $5,000 to $8,000 to subscribe.
Upfront with their pricing structure, GrantStation provides several different packages for nonprofits.
A one-year membership is $699, or you can join for a single quarter for $219 (that comes to $876 for a year.) GrantStation also offers two- and three-year memberships that help save users some money.
Through its partnership programs with organizations such as the Chronicle of Philanthropy (which offers free access to Chronicle subscribers), Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the Grant Professionals Association, and the Association of Junior Leagues International, among others, it’s possible to join GrantStation at low or no price.
With all its many features, Instrumentl is notable for its affordability.
Instrumentl’s Basic plan starts at $179 per month if paid annually. This allows access to Instrumentl’s comprehensive funder database and the creation of up to ten projects, along with smart grant matching, foundation profiles, a grants tracker, automatic deadline reminders, a task list, a library of stored documents, and the ability to pull reports in both PDF and CSV formats.
The Standard plan is $299 per month and along with the features included with Basic, it allows for the creation of up to 20 projects, as well as advanced funder insights offering a snapshot of the top issues funded.
Standard subscribers also gain the ability to view profiles of organizations that have received funding, a new integrated centralized calendar feature, and the ability to assign proposals to the team member taking the lead.
If that’s not enough, Instrumentl’s Professional plan runs $499 per month and offers all of the features of the Standard subscription along with up to 50 projects, personalized support and training, integration with Salesforce, and integration between Instrumentl’s calendar and each user’s.
For large teams, such as hospitals, universities, or large grant writing agencies, Instrumentl offers a custom plan designed specifically for your needs.
What Are Customers Saying About FoundationSearch, GrantStation, and Instrumentl?
No matter how effusive websites can be about their products, the buck stops at the end-user. Read some of these reviews of FoundationSearch, GrantStation, and Instrumentl to get the big picture.
What Customers Are Saying About FoundationSearch
Online reviews of FoundationSearch are uncommon. The most reviews we could find were on their own website, and of course, they’re all glowing, such as this one:
What Customers Are Saying About GrantStation
The Nonprofit Times reviewed GrantStation and pointed out that a 7,000 funder pool is a bit shallow (especially when compared to FoundationSearch and Instrumentl.)
However, for some users, eliminating funders who don’t accept unsolicited proposals may be a time-saver. But, if you work in higher education and actively seek scholarship funding, you might want to think twice about GrantStation since it also excludes these types of funders.
What Customers Are Saying About Instrumentl
Users agree: Instrumentl saves precious time, streamlines your workflow, and makes you more productive.
Grant consultants swear by Instrumentl. So do in-house grant writers and researchers.
Instrumentl’s collaborative tools allow prospect researchers to rid themselves of multiple spreadsheets and become more efficient.
Hands down, converts to Instrumentl love the convenience, collaboration, user-friendly interface, and its numerous time-saving features, including smart matching and easy reporting.
Wrapping Up: FoundationSearch vs. GrantStation vs. Instrumentl: Which Tool is Best for You in 2023?
Instrumentl is the most user-friendly, intuitive, and well thought out grants discovery and management solution available.
Don’t take our word for it: reach out to our team to sign up for your free 14-day trial of Instrumentl today. We’re betting your decision will be a no-brainer after trying Instrumentl out for yourself.
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