Other Sources of Information
Most reputable nonprofits are on mailing lists to receive notification of upcoming grant opportunities. They are also often contacted directly by the local, state, or even federal department with which they work. But you can also search for government programs and RFPs on your own.
A good search engine is the grant writer's best friend. Key words that will help you find government grants include the following:
The purpose of your program or project (for example, “lead hazards,” “school violence,” “prosthetics”)
The name of the department (be sure to specify “U.S.” or name of state first to avoid getting a long list)
The name of a similar program you know that has received funding. (When you search this way, you are likely to find out the name of the grant program they used and which department issued it.)
If your Web-surfing skills are weaker than you'd like, you might start out with some of the Web sites set up especially for grant writers. In addition to listing private, corporate, public, and community foundations, they often include federal agencies that have issued RFPs. Usually, you can search these sites by categories or topics.
There's no guarantee that a site will have links to all possible grant sources, but until you get a feel for what you can find on the Web, they may be a good place to start your search. At the very least, you won't be wasting time filtering through a lengthy list of grant topics pulled up by a search engine, only to discover that half the sites only contain news releases while the other half list grants with deadlines that have already expired.
It can take a while to locate different departments and agencies that issue RFPs, so be sure to bookmark sites that you know you'll want to return to. Also bookmark sites where you downloaded an RFP, so you can refer back to it throughout the writing process. Why do you want to do this? Sometimes deadlines are extended or modifications are made to the RFP, and the only way you will have of finding this out is to watch the Web site for updates.
Your local representative's office can help keep you informed about upcoming RFPs. Members of Congress often have a local office as well as a Washington, D.C., office, and your hometown staff is there to assist constituents. They will be willing to put you on a mailing list or a computer listserv so that you can receive important announcements.