A couple of months ago, I got really excited about the idea of a list of funding opportunities. Because what would be more helpful to NGOs desparate for money? I might even make a business out of it. So, I started a list with 16 funders, not knowing what an incredibly good idea it was ... and how naive I was about it.
My enthusiasm got me an invitation to do volunteer work for the list of grants that WildTeam is offering to the participants in their grant writing course. Through this work, I discovered that it indeed was a good idea. However, it was not novel and there already are a number of such databases around.
But, hold on ... if there are so many, should there not be a catalogue, repository or aggregating database, like the ones for other nature conservation data? Well, ... no. Aggregating these databases would put their owners out of business, so I doubt that that exists and I did not find any. I did find a few blog posts that discuss and compare a couple of these databases. So, there may be an opening for a catalogue, i.e. a database of grant databases. Before I go there, I can lay out some of the land, based on the data that I gathered for WildTeam.
Nature conservation is but one topic
Perhaps most important to know is that although there are literally thousands and thousands of charities, government agencies and companies that offer grants ( called sponsors from here on ), to most of them nature conservation and climate change is only one of the topics that they cover or may cover. Other topics are education, poverty, research, energy, arts and culture, and more. Most grant databases also cover all these topics. So, even though they provide knowledge about many thousands of donors and their grants, only a part of that targets nature conservation.
Some fundraisers may see that as an opportunity and mix topics to find money for nature conservation through grant programs on other topics. Perhaps it is worth a try, but sponsors are no idiots either.
Fortunately for nature conservation, there are at least two more or less specialized grant databases : Terra Viva Grants Directory ( focusing on agriculture, energy, environment, and natural resources), and FundsForNGOs ( focusing on sustainability ). If you are aware of any others, then please do let me know, for example through a comment on this post.
Geographical scope has two dimensions that one may find reflected in the grant databases: the location of the sponsor and the location of potential applicants. The easiest to find grant databases cut things short at the sponsor side : they either cover the United States of America, or the United Kingdom. The latter group may include the EU or at least the European Commission.
Sponsors can choose the geographical scope of potential applicants. Here is less clarity on the part of the grant databases, but there are a few that specialize on the UK.
Terra Viva Grants Directory lists the applicants' origins as South East Asia, Pacific, East Asia, South Asia, Eurasia, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, Russia, Middle East, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. FundsForNGOs is less specific but mentions that it has clients in over 180 countries.
Which grants, search possibilities and early warning features
Perhaps the most important thing one would like to know about the grant databases, is which ones collect which grants? If half of them cover the UK (or the US), will they give the same search results for a topic in nature conservation, or not? How big would the overlap be?
Other important selection criteria for me would be: what are the search and filter possibilities? How are findings presented ( a list, a map, a graph, ... )? Which data is available about a grant or a sponsor. A special feature that might be offered is a email warning service that brings newly opened calls to the user's attention.
Unfortunately, the websites are not very informative on these questions, so one would need to have a subscription or free trial to find out. Or find a review blog or article, such as this one, and others listed below.
Access and pricing models
Different databases offer different access models and subscription rates. Offers range from free access for certain services ( Terra Viva offers a free list of foundations and paid access to its grant database ) or groups of clients ( My Funding Central ) , to increasingly higher rates depending on the client's turnover ( My Funding Central ) to hundreds of dollars per year. A free trial period may be on offer.
A share of the database providers do not merely provide the database but also additional content like reports and news, additional services such as grant writing courses or courses on NGO management, or integrated grant portfolio management tools ( InGraPoMaTo :-). These can either or not be for free, and either or not be included in the subscription.
One interesting website is GrantAdvisor, where one not only can find sponsors, but also review them. This is interesting because usually, it is the sponsor who poses the conditions and reviews the applications and the applicants. Here it is the other way around, and it may be insightful to check the reviews of a sponsor before applying.
In this post, I have addressed a number dimensions that might be interesting for fund raisers at nature conservation NGOs for the selection of a grant database. Considering the amount of work that a grant database may save and depending on how much funds one aims to raise, I believe that paying for one or two, may be worth the while. Of course, one needs to invest some time to find out which databases best serves one's purposes.
Then to answer my own question, is there an opening for a database of grant databases? Perhaps yes for all major topic areas, but within nature conservation, it may not be interesting. After all, I found only two specialized databases. However, if you disagree, feel free and welcome to leave a comment.
Please notice, that the above is based my reviewing of the WildTeam list of grant databases. The list below includes some more. I am sure that the above applies to them as well, but I may have missed an outstanding example of one aspect or another.
A final note. I have searched only in English. Presumably, similar databases can be found in other major languages.
Alphabetical list of grant databases
In reverse historical order. Mentioning of the links should not be seen as an endorsement of the referred content or websites. All sites accessed on 20 September 2022
A Review of the Top 10 Grant Databases, LearnGrantWriting.org, 28 June 2022
How to Use Grant Databases, SOAR, 17 June 2022
Choosing a Grant Database Based on Your Needs and Budget, Peak Proposals, 28 January 2021
Finding Grants Through Online Databases, TheNonProfitTimes, 6 August 2007,
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