In Funder Research, Keywords Are Simple, Right?

Whether you’re looking for government or private grants, you’ll be plowing through a variety of databases to find the funding programs or foundations most likely to support your work.

“Getting a detailed, up-to-date picture of a grantmaker’s priorities and requirements, and learning about what it’s actually supporting, are pivotal factors in how successful you’ll be in winning grants,” said Barbara Floersch of The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, Calif. “And, you can’t search a database without using keywords.”

If a database identifies the keywords it uses to categorize topic areas, Floersch advises studying them and selecting those that are the best fit. If you don’t take this approach, you could enter the term “substance abuse” but come up empty-handed because the database uses “drug abuse.”

But when the database doesn’t provide the option of looking at the keywords it uses, you’ll have to come up with your own. To be most successful, Floersch suggests thinking broadly. For example, to find funders for a youth substance abuse prevention program, the usual-suspect keywords of “substance abuse,” “prevention,” and “youth” seem perfect.  “These keywords will produce some results,” said Floersch. “But, they’re unlikely to uncover all of the possibilities.”

    Floersch suggests developing lists of keywords in four categories, and then using the words in a mix-and-match fashion to produce the most extensive search results. The list below gives examples of keywords in each category for a youth substance abuse prevention program:

  1. Target Population – youth, teens, high school, students, children
  2. Geographic Area – Manhattan, New York City, New York, Northeast, Urban
  3. Issue Area – substance abuse, drug abuse, opioids, addiction, health, delinquency, juvenile justice, wellness
  4. Service Approach – prevention, health promotion, health education, mentoring, wellness

It takes a significant amount of time to do thorough funder research, but the payoff is significant. “Once you have a full picture of the grantmakers that align with your organization’s mission and current work priorities, you’re ready to be proactive,” said Floersch. “You can hammer out a proposal development calendar, begin building relationships with funders, and start pulling together the collaborations and information you’ll need to secure grant funding.” © Copyright 2019 The Grantsmanship Center.