Your time is valuable. It should be a given that the time you spend searching for funds for your projects and programs is a justifiable and productive use of your work day. It is easy, however, to waste an entire work day going down virtual blind alleys; and while you find your way back to the starting point, another organization might be closing in on your grant!

In today’s economic climate, organizations of every type are finding the search for ways to finance needed projects and programs increasingly difficult. Traditional revenue sources, whether taxes, user fees or charitable contributions, have diminished as everyone reacts to the reality and perception of the economy. Grant-seekers have no doubt found that the competition for funding is stiffer and the amounts available are generally far less than in past years.
Keeping the above in mind, an organization can design an approach to grants research that will make the process manageable and afford a better chance for a positive return on the time spent in the research phase. Follow these suggestions to maximize your return on investment:
• Compile of list of projects and programs in need of funding. This list should be divided into those that are ready to implement and those that are desired but not yet fleshed out. Feel free to put in “wish list” items, but consider that the chance of funding these will hinge on whether they can be matched to a program and how quickly they can be implemented.
• Explore those grants that your organization already accesses, such as the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) or the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) programs. Do not forget state and local grant programs that may exist, including family foundations and corporate giving programs. Funding for many such programs has been reduced or eliminated in the face of the economic downturn, but these types of programs are usually well-established and have familiar and predictable application processes.
• Explore websites maintained by your state and federal representatives, as well as those maintained by organizations such as the  League of Cities if it exists in your state. These often have links and information to grant programs that are available to local governments, educational institutions and non-profits.
• Stay focused—resist the urge to explore the entire array of programs, at least until you have compiled a list of funding programs that have real potential. You can quickly become lost in the forest of non-relevant funding opportunities!
And remember—by subscribing to our E-Newsletter, you can take advantage of our regular updates on grant programs at no charge, a service that could greatly reduce the time you need to spend on the research phase.