There are two ways to approach grant research: an active approach or a passive approach. We’re not here to say one is right and one is wrong. Both are acceptable depending on your overall funding goals and your timeline. What we aim to do is differentiate between the two and provide insight on what method would work best for you.
Active grant research has a purpose of funding something specific. If you have a project in mind, you have a more narrowed focus for your research purpose. Methods for conducting active grant research include canvassing websites, checking targeted sources, paying for subscription services, conducting trend analysis, and monitoring policies that pertain to your project. In other words, this approach is very hands-on and requires a lot of your time and focus. We recommend this approach for organizations with a “fundable project”, in other words, a project that needs funding and there are grants out there that can help it come to fruition. Although this involves a lot of work and financial investment, this is a smart approach for those with a project of focus who want to be efficient with their search, choose grants for which they are most competitive, and have a set timeline in mind for project completion.
Passive grant research has a purpose of funding something in general, not with a specific project in mind. The methods for this approach include if someone passes a grant opportunity along to you, you stumble upon a funding opportunity, you have notification services turned on for funders, RSS feeds, email distribution lists, and grants.gov notices. This approach has a low cost or no cost associated with it, so it’s economical for those who do not have the budget to have a more active research approach. This approach is recommended for organizations who have grant development staff whose job it is to have a finger on the pulse of the funding landscape in general in case something comes up that would be of interest to their organization or for future projects. If you don’t have a project that needs funding specifically, or have a relaxed timeline, this could be the approach for you.
Assess which grant research approach makes the most sense for your organization’s needs and please note that there is nothing wrong with either approach, or even switching from one approach to the other. Another option within the active research category is hiring a consultant to research grant opportunities for you. If you have a larger budget, this option would allow an expert to conduct the research process for you, leaving you worry-free.
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