How to Make Your Museum Grants Search More Efficient

Rachael Cristine Woody

Rachael Cristine Woody

May 19, 2021

Recently we’ve focused on posts to help get you started if you’re new to museum grants. Now that you have those basics down it’s time to work on your grant search strategies so that you can search at maximum efficiency—protecting your valuable time.

Finding the right grant opportunities for your museum doesn’t have to take forever. This post will outline how I quickly search for and vet grant opportunities so that I can efficiently find the right grants for my museum clients.

Set Up Search Efficiency

There are three steps to take in order to build efficiency into your grant searches:

  1. Do the preliminary work to become familiar with where to find grant options for museums at both the national and local level. If you’re just starting out, place more of a priority on your local options as you’ll want to apply for and win those first. For more information on the best places to find museum grants, please see this post.
  1. Sign up for granting agency newsletters for programs that fit your museum. All federal agencies and many private, state, and local foundations have their own e-newsletter or blog post mechanisms to announce when grants are open, awards are given, and other pertinent grant news. By electing to receive their news alerts you’ll never have to worry that you missed an important grant announcement—including when to apply!
  1. Set up Google alerts to receive an alert for any new opportunities that meet your criteria. Creating an alert is very similar to creating a search query when searching for grants on an internet search engine. For example, an alert could use the following alert string: “private foundation grant funding for small museums building community digitization programs”.

Set Up Vetting Efficiency

Now that you’ve gotten into the swing of efficiently searching for grant opportunities it’s time to learn how to vet each opportunity. They key is to take each potential grant project and outline project specifications. You will use this information to efficiently vet any potential grant opportunity.

Example Grant Project Specifications

Organization Type: museum (registered nonprofit)

Project Type: Digitization and Cataloging

Award Range: $30,000-$35,000

Award Date: Summer 2021 (when you want the project to start)

Project Duration: 2-years (preferred)

Matching Requirements: $5,000 cash and $10,000 in-kind; cannot do 1:1

Vetting in Action

As you pull up each grant opportunity begin with scanning the website for the information you’ve identified as important to your project. If the opportunity doesn’t meet one or more of your specifications then it’s time to move on to the next opportunity for vetting.

Tools that Will Help Build Efficiency

The more you work in museum grants the easier it will get. But until then, there are tools available you can use to help increase your grant search efficiency. For additional support please read: How to Determine Museum Grant Eligibility: A Check List and How to Determine Museum Grant Suitability: A Check List. These posts will help you further determine which funding opportunities you’re eligible for, and which you’re best suited for.

A New Tool: Lucidea’s Grants Directory

Lucidea’s new Grants Directory supports your grant search by offering drill-down searching based on the most common vetting categories: project amount, project term (duration), and project theme (digitization, exhibits, preservation, and 15 other types). You can read more about this free resource via this post: We Invite You to Leverage a New Grant Resource for LAMs.


We all have other jobs to do, so building efficiencies in where we can is a very smart use of our time. By spending just a few minutes setting alerts and outlining project specifications, you can reduce work spent in this area and instead use your time on pressing collection work.

Rachael Cristine Woody

Rachael Cristine Woody

Expert consultant Rachael Cristine Woody advises on museum strategies, collections management, digital museums, and grant writing for a wide variety of clients, and is a popular presenter and Lucidea Press author. Learn about Lucidea’s Argus Museum CMS for virtual, multimedia presentation of collections, visitor engagement, and museum staff productivity and impact.

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