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A Guide to Funding Resources

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Rural Information Center (U.S.)

Beltsville, MD: USDA, National Agricultural Library, Rural Information Center, [2014] Rev.

Compiled by Patricia La Caille John.
Rural Information Center Publications Series No.68 2004.

Last Modified: May 2019. 




  The "Funding Resources" section of A Guide to Funding Resources includes links to searchable databases offering funding opportunities from government and/or private sources that are available to local governments, community organizations, and individuals. It provides web links to full-text online guides and tips to assist grantwriters prepare successful proposals.   The reader may locate links to additional funding programs and information on the Rural Information Center (RIC):

For additional information, contact RIC at 1-800-633-7701 or

The use of trade, firm, or corporation names in this publication (or page) is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by the United States Department of Agriculture or the Agricultural Research Service of any product or service to the exclusion of others that maybe suitable.  

The Funding Process

  The process of grantsmanship covers a broad scope of activities including preliminary planning and research, proposal development, and proposal follow-up. Through this process, two questions are commonly asked by grantseekers, "Where is the money available?" and "How do I get it?" The following discussion addresses these questions and provides useful information for grantseekers in search of funding dollars.  

Where Does the Money Come From?

  The two primary sources of grant money are public and private funds. Public funds are obtained from governmental units, such as federal, state, and local agencies. Private funds, on the other hand, come from organizations involved in charitable giving, such as foundations, direct giving programs, voluntary agencies, and community groups.  

Federal Funding

  The Federal government is the largest of all the grantmakers. However, much of the federal grant budget moves to the states through formula and block grants. From there it is up to the states to decide how to use the money.   The federal government administers several types of grants designed to accomplish different purposes, such as conducting scientific research, demonstrating a particular theory, or delivering services to a specific population. Examples of these grants include:

  • research grants to support investigations aimed at the discovery of facts, revision of accepted theories, or application of new or revised theories;
  • demonstration grants to demonstrate or establish the feasibility of a particular theory or approach;
  • project grants to support individual projects in accordance with legislation that gives the funding agency discretion in selecting the project, grantees, and amount of award;
  • block grants to provide states with funding for a particular purpose; and
  • formula grants to provide funding to specified grantees on the basis of a specific formula, using indicators such as per capita income, mortality, or morbidity rates, outlined in legislation or regulations.

Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) Number   All organizations applying for a federal grant or cooperative agreement must have a DUNS number. Individuals who would personally receive a grant or cooperative agreement award from the federal government apart from any business or non-profit organization they may operate, and foreign entities are exempt from this requirement.   The DUNS number is a unique nine character identification number provided by the commercial company Dun & Bradstreet (D&B). The DUNS number is D&B's copyrighted, proprietary means of identifying business entities on a location-specific basis worldwide.   A DUNS Number remains with the company location to which it has been assigned even if it closes or goes out-of-business. The DUNS Number is widely used by both commercial and federal entities and was adopted as the standard business identifier for federal electronic commerce in October 1994. The DUNS was also incorporated into the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) in April 1998 as the Federal Government's contractor identification code for all procurement-related activities.

In addition to federal funding, state and local agencies also administer grants. Monies used to support these programs are obtained primarily through state and local tax revenues and funds received from the federal government (e.g., block and formula grants).  

Private Funding

Private funding can be obtained from a variety of sources, such as foundations, corporations, voluntary agencies and community groups. For the most part, philanthropic organizations fund programs which either address their individual interests (e.g., farm safety) or benefit a particular group (e.g., company employees and their dependents). Examples of major types of philanthropic organizations include:

  • private foundations which receive income from an individual, family or group of individuals. The funding priorities of private foundations are usually based on the personal philosophies of the founding members.
  • corporate foundations which receive contributions from a profit-making entity, such as a corporation.
  • community foundations involved in grant giving within a specific community or region.
  • direct giving programs philanthropic arms of corporations which donate goods and services for charitable causes.
  • voluntary agencies private organizations which support charitable programs that are consistent with their overall mission. The American Red Cross, for example, provides printed materials and staff consultation for health projects in various communities.
  • community groups local organizations which focus on supporting projects within their communities. Examples of these organizations include churches, Junior Leagues, and civic organizations.

How Can I Obtain Funding?

Regardless of the type of funding desired, the grantsmanship process involves three distinct phases: preliminary planning and research, effective proposal writing, and proposal follow-up. To complete these phases successfully, the grantseeker should consider the following steps:  

Steps and Questions to Consider in the Funding Process

Step 1: Identify a Need Step 2: Identify Funding Sources Step 3: Develop Proposal Step 4: Submit Proposal Step 5: Follow-up

    • What is the problem?
    • How does my plan address the problem?
    • Who should I approach for funding?
    • How do I obtain information about potential funders?
    • What are the goals and objectives of the program?
    • How will the program be carried out?
    • How will I budget the program?
    • What type of proposal format should be used? (e.g., forms or letters)
    • Am I consistent with the funder's application deadlines?
    • Am I sending the proposal to the appropriate contact?
    • Was the proposal accepted?
    • If not, why?
    • Should I submit a revised proposal?

Although not exhaustive, these steps provide a general "game plan" for individuals embarking on a grant search. By following these guidelines, grantseekers can prepare a more effective funding strategy and increase their overall chances for success.  

How Do I Get Started?

Perhaps the hardest part of the grantsmanship process is getting started! With this in mind, the following checklist has been developed to help grantseekers get off on the right track.

  • Become Familiar with the Grantsmanship Process!
    • If you are a first time grantseeker, you may wish to attend a grant writing workshop or team up with an experienced fund raiser.
    • In addition, you may also wish to hire a professional consultant for proposal guidance and development.
  • Check your Local Library!
    • Several libraries have sections related to grantsmanship and funding resources. If your local library does not have a copy of a book or periodical mentioned in this publication, they should be able to obtain a copy through interlibrary loan.
    • Check for library publications on your computer or mobile device through WorldCat:
  • Check the Funding Sources in Your Own Back Yard!
    • Often times grantseekers approach the larger, national foundations for projects which may be more attractive to local, community funders. Remember, national funders support projects which have a broad impact, while smaller funders support those which affect their own community. Be sure to consider this when beginning your search.
    • Contact associations and members of organizations that are related to your field of interest. They might be able to offer suggestions for the best place to begin your funding search.
  • Pursue Several Potential Funders!
    • Be sure to identify several potential funders when conducting your search. The odds of a successful search are greater when you approach a variety of funders.
    • Maintain a journal of what organizations you have contacted and when. Each grant program will probably have a different set of deadlines, so it is helpful to have a master list.
  • Check In With Us!
    • The staff of the Rural Information Center may be able to direct you to potential funding sources. Contact the Rural Information Center at

Funding Resources

Federal Funding Databases
Please note: The Rural Federal Funding Database is no longer available.

  1. Assistance Listings (formerly the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance) is an Internet database containing information about all federal domestic programs including federal grants, loans, insurance, and training programs; information is available on eligibility, application procedures, selection criteria, and deadlines.  Search the Assistance Listings database for information on rural funding programs: Use available search options to narrow these search results.
  2.  1-800-518-4726 is an online database containing information on "more than 900 federal grant programs".

Private Funding Databases

  1. Community Foundations Locator. Council On Foundations.
  2. GuideStar at:
    • Allows you to "search more than 1 million U.S.nonprofits" by subject, category, keyword, state, nonprofit type, etc. to identify local or state organizations. 
  3. The Foundation Center.  
  4. at:
    • Allows you to "search more than 40,000 nonprofit and community organizations in 165 counties" by city, state, keyword, etc. 
  5. Search for Charities. Internal Revenue Service. 
    • Search by city, city and state or state. 

Foundation Databases/Directories by State

  1. National Council of Non-Profits, State Association listing at:
  2. Funding State by State. The Gransmanship Center.
  3. CO:Financial Assistance. Colorado Department of Local Affairs.
  4. DE: Philanthropy Delaware. Formerly, Delaware Grantmaker's Association.
  5. MA/NH: Associated Grant Makers. Associated Grant Makers. 
    • The Grant Makers Directory is available to members only.
  6. MD: Maryland Charities Database. Maryland Office of the Secretary of State.
  7. NH: Directory of Charitable Funds in New Hampshire. New Hampshire Department of Justice.
  8. NJ: Directory of Registered Charities (Database). Office of the Attorney General. Division of Consumer Affairs.
  9. OK: Oklahoma Charitable Organization Search. Oklahoma Secretary of State.
  10. SC: South Carolina Grant Research Assistance. South Carolina State Library.
  11. SD: South Dakota Library Grant Page. South Dakota State Library.
  12. VA: Charitable Organization Database. Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs.
  13. WA: Charities Database. Washington Secretary of State Charities Program Division.

Additional Guides and Directories

  1. Crowdfunding: A Guide to Raising Capital on the Internet. 1st Edition. Steven Dresner. Bloomberg Financial Series. 2014. 272 Pages. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
  2. The Crowdfunding Revolution: How to Raise Venture Capital Using Social Media. 1st Edition. Kevin Lawton and Dan Marom. 2013. 224pages. New York: McGraw-Hill
  3. Directory of Research Grants 2013. 36th Edition. Louis S. Schafer (Editor). 2013. 1134 Pages. West Lafayette, IN:Schoolhouse Partners.
  4. The Finance and Funding Directory 2014/15. 4th edition. 2014. Jonathan Wooller. Hampshire, UK: Harriman House Ltd.


  1. Federal Register. Washington, DC: Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration. Monday through Friday. 
    • Includes information on federal assistance such as grants and contracts. 
  2. Giving Forum Newspaper Online. Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota Council on Foundations. Quarterly.
    • Features articles on funding programs, profiles people in philanthropy, lists grants made by both foundations and corporate giving programs, and includes a calendar of philanthropic events and educational opportunities.
  3. The Grantsmanship Center Magazine. Los Angeles: The Grantsmanship Center. Quarterly.
    • Contains articles about grantsmanship, fundraising techniques, grantsmanship seminars and reference literature on funding sources. Available free to staff of nonprofits and government agencies.
  4. Humanities: The Magazine of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Washington, DC: National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Bimonthly.
    • Describes National Endowment for the Humanities projects and programs in the humanities. It lists recent grants, application deadlines, and other useful information for grant seekers.
  5. Philanthropy News Digest. New York: Foundation Center. Weekly.
    • Compendium of philanthropy-related articles and features culled from print and electronic media outlets nationwide.
  6. PND Connections. New York: Foundation Center. Biweekly.
    • Covers philanthropy-related content on the web.
  7. PND RFP Bulletin. New York: Foundation Center. Weekly.
    • Covers recently announced requests for proposal (RFPs) from private, corporate, and government funding sources.

Grant Writing Resources

  1. Anatomy of a  Grant Proposal. Discover GetEd Funding. February 2016.
  2. Introduction to Finding Grants. GrantSpace.
  3. Funding Alternatives for Emergency Medical and Fire Services. United States Fire Administration. Emmitsburg, Maryland : U.S. Fire Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency. FA-331/ April 2012. 178 pages. [PDF File 3.7MB]
  4. How to Write a Grant Proposal. Appalachian Regional Commission.
  5. Introduction to Project Budgets. GrantSpace.
  6. Proposal Writing. Foundation Center.
  7. What To Do Before You Write A Grant Proposal. Ohio Literacy Resource Center.
  8. Writing A Successful Grant Proposal. Minnesota Council on Foundations.

Additional Resource Citations

  1. Finding funding : grantwriting from start to finish, including project management and Internet use. 5th Edition. Ernest W Brewer; Charles M Achilles. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. 2008. 424 pages.
  2. Library Project Funding: A Guide to Planning and Writing Proposals. 1st Edition. Julie Carpenter. Chandos Information Professional Series. Chandos Publishing/Elsevier. 2008. 234 pages.
  3. Winning Grants Step by Step: the complete workbook for planning, developing, and writing successful proposals. 4th Edition. Tori O'Neal-McElrath. Jossey-Bass nonprofit guidebook series. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass/Wiley. 2013. 144 pages.

Guides for Research Grants

  1. The Art of Grantsmanship. Jacob Kraicer.
  2. Grants and Grant-Proposal Writing. 3rd ed. 2001. John O'del.  [PDF File 223.93KB]
  3. A Guide for Proposal Writing. National Science Foundation. Feb. 2004.
  4. Proposal Writer's Guide. Don Thackrey.
  5. Writing From the Winner's Circle: A Guide to Preparing Competitive Grant Proposals. David Stanley. [PDF File 191.32KB]

Sample Grant Proposals

  1. Examples of Successful Entrepreneurship and Business Development Projects. Appalachian Regional Commission.
  2. A Sample Grant Proposal. Plugged In. University of Maine.


  1. Financial Glossary. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
  2. Glossary. Foundation Center.
  3. Glossary of Grant Terms. Oakton Community College. [PDF File 74.02KB]

This publication contains material that is considered accurate, readable, and available. The opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Department of Agriculture. Inclusion of publications, software, and databases in this publication does not imply product endorsement. Last Modified: May 2019 

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