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Finding New Grants During Crisis: Tips for First-Time Grant Seekers

Amidst an emergency like the COVID-19 crisis, we advise nonprofit organizations to contact their existing grant funders as soon as possible.
But what if your organization does not have current grant funders? Perhaps you’ve received grants in the past but aren’t currently managing any active grants now. Or maybe your organization has never received a grant before. 
If you don’t have active grant funders to call upon, you still need an emergency course of action. We advise you to take the following immediate steps to put your organization in a position to begin getting grants. 

1. Seek out emergency nonprofit grants

In mere weeks, hundreds of foundations in communities across the U.S. have launched emergency response funds to help organizations impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. In many cases, grants are being directed to pre-selected organizations; however, this is a trend and not a rule, so check the eligibility requirements for the emergency fund in your area. 
Individuals and businesses have also pitched in to start emergency funds open to nonprofits nationwide. The Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation has donated $5 million that will be used to make 1,000 grants of $5,000 each to women-led organizations. Rackspace is granting $10 million in computing resources to organizations engaged in relief efforts. These are just a few.
Contact your local community foundation or United Way to learn if they are granting emergency funds. You can also visit our hub of COVID-19 grant seeking resources, which includes a listing of crisis grants. If you meet the eligibility requirements for an emergency fund, act fast to apply.

2. Find grants your organization is more likely to win

Every foundation has a specific set of requirements, priorities, and preferences that determine the grants they make. Some foundations’ guidelines will be a better match for your organization than others. It’s important to carefully evaluate every funding opportunity and hone in on those grants you stand the greatest chance to win. Consider these criteria:
  • Alignment: Review the funder’s mission. Does it relate to the mission of your program or organization?
  • Geography: Does the foundation make grants in your target geographic area?
  • Focus: Do their past grants show they give to similar organizations serving similar populations?
  • Relationship: Can you find a connection between someone at the foundation and a person on your staff or board?
The more factors you can answer affirmatively, the stronger your potential. View our complete guide to deciding whether to go or not go for a grant opportunity.

3. Prepare a winning grant proposal

Be ready to apply for grant funding opportunities by preparing a well-written, persuasive grant proposal. A grant proposal must demonstrate that your organization’s work is important, unique, meets an urgent need, and is worthy of investment. It also should be tailored to show how your mission aligns with the individual grant funder’s own vision and funding priorities. If you haven’t prepared grant applications before, the good news is you can master the skills and techniques of good grant writing. Read our comprehensive Grants Plus Guide to Nonprofit Grant Writing to learn how to prepare a grant proposal that will secure grants for your cause.

4. Build your skill and confidence to take the right steps with grant funders

For many of us, the COVID-19 crisis has disrupted our regular routines and forced us to stay at home. That makes this a great time to further your knowledge and build your skills. Spend time now to read philanthropy blogs and seek out professional development resources. You can register for our series of free grant seeking webinars or enroll in our 30 Day Grant Coach virtual program. Consider it fuel for the future: learning how to find grants and raise funds can put your organization on the fast track to new funding. 
Now is a challenging time for every organization that’s been set back by the coronavirus crisis, but especially for organizations without a long track record of grant funding. Fortunately, there are steps you can take today that will make a difference in the months and years ahead. If you are in need of support, know that you can contact Grants Plus to request a complimentary troubleshooting conversation with one of our grant seeking experts.

This blog is an original work of the attributed author and is shared with permission via Foundant Technologies' website for informative purposes only as part of our educational content in the philanthropic sector. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this text belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect Foundant's stance on this topic. If you have questions or comments, please reach out to our team.

About the Author

Lauren is President and Founder of the professional grantseeking firm Grants Plus. Since 2007, the team at Grants Plus has partnered with nonprofit organizations across the country to secure more than $155 million in grant funding from public and private sources. Learn more at

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