Every once in a while I get a call or an e-mail from a subscriber asking about where to find "open" foundation grants. "The grants database is fine for finding grants that have already been made," they say, "but where can I find grants that I can apply for now?"
Apparently I'm not alone; my colleagues at the Foundation Center's Washington, DC, library get the same inquiries. Katrina Brown, our DC reference librarian, has posted an explanation on the Philanthropy Front and Center blog responding to these inquiries, and I thought I'd share her explanation here:
At the Foundation Center we often are asked, "Where can I find a list of open grants from foundations?" We explain that foundation grants generally don't work the same way that government grants do. There is no master list of "open" foundation grants that nonprofits or individuals can apply for. In most cases you need to do research to figure out who funds what and how to apply.
But "open" foundation grants are not a complete myth! Unlike Bigfoot. (Sorry, folks -- I just don't buy it.) Some foundations on occasion will set aside funds to address a specific issue or to fund a certain program area, and they publish Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to announce these open grants and to invite applications.
You can find current RFPs from U.S. foundations listed in a special section of our Philanthropy News Digest site. This allows you to browse for RFPs by subject areas, like Arts and Culture, Environment, or Human Services, or to search using keywords.
You also may want to register for our RFP Bulletin. This free e-newsletter is sent out weekly and lists the new RFPs open to nonprofits and/or individuals that have been released during that week. It's an easy way to track down those mysterious, elusive "open grants."
I would just add one more option to this: Foundation Directory Online Professional Power Search lets you pull RFP results from Philanthropy News Digest directly into your search results. Just enter any search word or phrase into the Power Search field and you'll get matching RFPs along with your results from the other FDO and Foundation Center databases.