One of the most common ways to find grant opportunities from private funders is to use the Foundation Center database.

In my last column (“Where to find grants for education,” October 2010), I wrote abut how to find grant opportunities from public funders, such as government agencies. This month, I’m going to focus on finding grant opportunities from private funders, such as foundations and corporations. However, I need to add one more source of information for federal grant opportunities.

According to its website, Grants.gov is a central storehouse for information on more than 1,000 federal grant programs and provides access to approximately $500 billion in annual awards. If you haven’t registered yet with Grants.gov, I would encourage you to do this now, even if you’re not currently interested in applying for federal grants. The application process is free, and applications can take a few days to be processed. Registering now can help you avoid any problems with missed deadlines if you decide to apply for a federal grant in the future.

Today, applicants must use the Grants.gov system to apply for most federal grants, although there are few grant programs that still do not use this electronic system. Grant seekers can search for federal grants using Grants.gov and can receive eMail notification of grant announcements from specific federal agencies. Clicking on these announcements will provide you with the guidance needed for these programs, as well as the online grant package that must be completed and submitted, if applicable.

One of the most common ways to find information about potential private funders is to use the Foundation Center database. Go to www.fdncenter.org, locate the nearest Foundation Center library, and pay the library a visit in order to access its database for free. When you access the database, you can search by funder interest, geographic location, and the dollar amount of a foundation’s assets, among other criteria. The Foundation Center libraries that I have visited also provided additional directories and books about grants and funding. In addition, you can subscribe to the Foundation Center database if you want continuous access from your own computer, instead of having to make a physical trip to the nearest library for information.