Finding the right funder for your project is really important; failure to match a funders criteria is one of the main reasons applications fail. Therefore the additional time invested in finding the right funder is worthwhile.
Where to begin;
Initially I consider the bid, and well known funders like Tudor Trust, Henry Smith Charity, Big Lottery, Esmee Fairbairn, especially for larger projects. They are fairly general in what they will fund have clear criteria. These are also funders Im familiar in applying to and have good results with them
If they are not suitable and/or I want to apply to others as well (many of the larger funders will expect this) I rely on a small database of funders I have built up over the years combined with new searches on the databases like these:
Funding Central – provide by NCVO, this is a good and free search tool. This is my favoured one.
Grant Finder – I use to use this a lot, but in recent years found that its searches can be very limited in how it applies the search criteria as such it misses out possible matches. It is also not cheap, although your CVC / CVS should have access to run a search for you.
Trustfunding – Another paysite and not one I’ve used for a few years now. Maybe not having as many funders as Grant finder but provides a good range of options.
Any search is only as good as the information you input, and it is always worth running several searches using slightly different criteria to get the best range of possibilities.
Once I have this initial list I will check each funder on the charity commission website (assuming it is a charity). This will show you the size of the charity, contact details etc, you can also access the accounts to see who they have previously funder and the amounts awarded. Some search engines will say grants between £1000 and £250,000 for example, but when you look at the accounts the £250,000 was a one off and all others are under £2000. The accounts can also give a bit more detail such as there area of operation
Naturally if the funder has their own website check out the criteria there.
I also use the charity commission site to search for similar charities to the ones Im working with and in their accounts see who funded them.
If there are contact detail provided (and they do not say please do not contact us) it is well worth giving the prospective funders a call, to check timescales and suitability. This also lets them know to expect a bid from you in the near future. It can help to have a couple of bids in mind in case your first one is not one they want to fund in which case you can ask about another.