Many grants and funders can be found through the most-famous online hub: http://foundationcenter.org/. Use this "how to" guide as a learning tool to pursue grants. Here are some things to consider about grants in general.
Need is the center behind any good grant. If you can make a case for need, you can nail a grant.
Make a list of local, state, regional, and national funders (they can be government entities, foundations, or corporations) whose goals relate to yours. Think outside the box, too. For example, our music professor performs music, but a lot of his music involves community outreach. Does your organization’s work also involve community outreach? Arts? Culture? List some keywords like these, too. Use them to search online. When you are listing each funder, note their typical grant amounts. Some give $5,000 — some $1-2 million.
Often, who you know gets you to a better pile, but it doesn’t win you a grant. You must have a solid proposal and sadly, often a good connection. Think about regulars who come into your organization, such as board members, trustees, etc. These people can be helpful in making connections. Once you get going, you can make your own connections too. You may also want to call and chat with a person before sending a proposal, but make sure you are prepared before calling.
Here are a few: RFP = Request For Proposal. (This is a document calling for you/your institution to apply for a grant. It is posted by the foundation/government on their site and some other sites, such as the Foundation Center.) ARRA = American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. (This is the grant associated with all the road signs/work. You can get recovery money, but there is tons of reporting to do. I am not an expert in this field. Just thought you should know it exists.) LOI = Letter of Intent. (Often, when you see a funder or grant you’re interested in, you start by writing the funder a letter of intent. This can contain two things: a.) if it pertains to a specific grant, it should introduce the need and your solution (and monetary amount needed to implement that solution) OR b.) it could just introduce your institution and invite them to visit. This is a good way to engage support. Be sure, when they visit, that you have well-thought-out funding ideas to present to them though. Ideally you present your future plans and wait for them to offer funding. (It’s a subtle game.)
You may have to feel your leaders out more to see their future aspirations, but grants require growth (a new idea, a growth on an existing idea, a new program, etc.) and sustainability. Your organization must be able to support the grant idea after the funding runs out. This is key and sustainability ideas must be present in grants. It is, however, a possibility to charge for additional programming (to customers) after a grant runs out. Some nonprofit entities cannot do this, however.