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How to create the perfect project
How to create the perfect project

Learn how to optimize your project to get the best grant matches for your nonprofit

Tracie Zamiska avatar
Written by Tracie Zamiska
Updated over a week ago

Setting up your project correctly on Instrumentl is one of the most important things you can do to ensure you're seeing the best opportunities for your organization. 

Here is a step by step guide:

Create a new project or edit an existing project

To create a new project, select the 'New Project' link at the top left of your screen.

To edit an existing project, click the three dots next to the project name and select Edit.

Project Overview

On the first page, you'll choose the Project Name, Project Lead, and Project Type.

Project Name

This is the name you want to give to your project (aka your 'saved search') and is exclusively for your own organizational purposes. E.g. if you are searching for grants for a specific educational program at your organization, you may want to call your project 'Educational program' or 'Educational program grants'.

Project Lead

Select the person on your team who will be primarily in charge of prospecting or tracking grants within this project.

When it comes to receiving email notifications about this project (e.g. upcoming deadlines, funder updates & new grants), you can adjust your settings so that only the project lead receives the notifications (by default everyone on the team receives notifications). Read about adjusting your email notification settings here.

The information the project lead has included as their 'Location of Organization' in their Profile (visit Account >> Profile from your left navigation to view this) will also affect the grants that show up in the matches for this project.

Project Type

If you'd like new grant recommendations and grant tracking features, choose Matches & Tracking. Then, select Next.

If you'd just like to track grants, select Tracking. Then, select Save & Exit.

Matches Setup

You'll only be prompted to fill out this information of you chose Matches & Tracking for Project Type. On this page, you'll select: Applicant Type, Faith-Based Grants, Location of Project, Fields of work, Grant size, and Funding Use.

Applicant Type

Select the kind of organization you are from this list. Since Instrumentl is designed for 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, be sure to select an organizational applicant type from the first portion of the list before potentially selecting an applicant type from the 'individuals' portion at the bottom of the list. For instance, if you'd like to see grants that individual artists or working professionals can apply to, select 'Nonprofit' and 'Artist'. 

Note: If you are a specific type of nonprofit, like a Museum, select the more specific option ONLY if it is available. For instance, if you are Museum, select only Museum/Library/Zoo (do not select Nonprofit as well). This will ensure you won't see grants that specifically exclude your specific applicant type (e.g. funders who give grants to nonprofits but NOT museums). 

Faith-Based Grants

If you are a faith-based organization, select 'Yes' to the question Would you like to see grants specifically for faith-based organizations? Otherwise, leave this as 'No'.

If you are a faith-based organization and selected 'Yes' to the question above, you'll see another series of questions appear.

If you are a House of Worship (e.g. a church) select the checkbox next to this option. This will ensure you don't see grants that specifically exclude houses of worship from applying and will optimize your results.

For the drop down that says What kind of grants would you like to see? select one of three options:

  1. Grants for faith-based and secular programs: Select this option if you provide 2 kinds of programming/services: a) faith-based programs for your faith community and b) programs for the broader community that are not directly/explicitly related to your faith (e.g. a food distribution service for the homeless that doesn't involve any faith-based education)

  2. Grants for faith-based programs only: Select this option if your programming is primarily targeted at your faith community or involves evangelizing or faith education or any kind. This will ensure you don't see grants from funders who specifically exclude these kinds of activities from their funding and will improve your results.

  3. Grants for secular programs only: Select this option if your programming/services are specifically for the broader community and are not faith-based in their nature.

Finally, select the specific kind of faith you are affiliated with from the list of options provided in the Religious affiliation section.

Location of Project

In this field, select the specific location(s) in which your organization delivers their services or programs. Note that this can be different from where your organization is physically based or registered!


  • You can add as many locations as you like (keep in mind that more locations generally = more grants since you're broadening your geographic range)

  • As much as possible, select county-specific locations (even if this is time consuming it is very worth it to get the optimal results). Selecting a specific county does not prevent you from seeing funders who give grants anywhere in your state or anywhere in the US (you'll still see those grants). Only select your entire state if you truly work in every single county and wouldn't mind seeing grants specific to a county in your state).

  • If your work is national in scope and you DO NOT want to see any location-specific grants, select the option 'My project is national in scope in the United States'. If you work nationally but would still like to see grants for specific locations (e.g. from funders interested in the city or county where your organization is based), select 'My project takes place in specific states or counties in the U.S.', then add the locations you are specifically interested in. You will still see opportunities that are national in scope, in addition to opportunities specific to those locations.

  • You have the option of selecting both international and US-based locations if you work internationally. 

Field of Work

Select the Field of Work keywords that are most closely tied to your organization's mission or project/program focus area. 

Each Field of Work keyword represents a common funder focus area. For instance if you select 'Social Isolation' you'll see grants from funders interested in funding nonprofits or programs focused on fighting social isolation in various populations.

You can select up to 10 Field of Work keywords per project. 


  • Avoid selecting Field of Work keywords that are only tangentially related to your mission or project/program. The best results will come from Field of Work keywords that are closely tied to what you do. When selecting a keyword, ask yourself, "would I want to see grants from funders specifically interested in funding programs for this topic?"

  • While you are getting familiar with Instrumentl's Field of Work, take your time browsing through all the categories and keywords to ensure you're not missing any important relevant terms. You can also use the keyword search at the top of the Field of Work modal (see image below) to search the Field of Work keywords instead of browsing. 

  • If you're searching for funding for a specific purpose such as upgrading your nonprofit's technology, avoid selecting 'Field of Work' keywords like Technology Access & Digital Literacy (this will bring up funders interested in supporting programs that bring technology access to underserved populations). Rather, select keywords that best reflect your organization's mission.

  • Ask for help! If you are unsure whether a Field of Work keyword is right for your project, use the chat bubble at the bottom right of your screen to ask our expert customer support team.

For Art-Oriented Organizations
If you select any art-oriented Field of Work keywords, you'll see another field appear in your project form: 

Select 'Yes' if you are a professional art & culture organization, meaning that your organization's principal mission is related to art & culture. Select 'No' if this is not the case.

For Environment or Animal-Oriented Organizations
If you select any environment or animal-related Field of Work keywords, you'll see additional fields appear which allow you to select specific plants, animals and/or ecosystems as necessary. Only fill out these fields if you truly only work on one or more specific plant or animal species, or in a particular ecosystem (e.g. forests or marine environments).

Grant Size

If you only want to see grants above or below a specific size in your matches, you can add a minimum and maximum grant size here. Keep in mind that you can later sort your grants by 'Amount', so it may be wise to keep this range broad so you aren't missing out on potentially promising opportunities.

Funding Use

Under 'What will you use the funds for?', select all the funding uses that are relevant to your organization or program/project.


  • Select as many options as may be relevant to capture a broad range of grants. You can always filter your matches by funding use later.

  • If you're looking for general operating funds, we suggest selecting 'General Operating Expenses' as well as 'Project/Program' and/or 'Education/Outreach' (if you're an education organization). Funders often want to provide restricted funding first (e.g. funding that will be used to run a specific program or for a specific purpose) - once they've funded you a few years in a row and have built up a relationship with your organization, they may be open to providing general operating funds.

  • If you are looking for capital project funding, select both 'Capital Project' and 'Project/Program'. Funders who broadly fund projects/programs may be open to funding capital projects (they may just not explicitly mention it in their grant description). When reviewing your matches, review the 'Ineligibility' section of our grant pages to see if the funder specifically excludes capital project funding. If not, check the past grantee list in their 990 to see if they've funded capital projects in the past. If you can't get a clear picture from their 990 or website, you can always contact the funder directly to inquire.

Now that you've created the perfect project, import historical grants you'd previously been working on to your Project Tracker! See how here.

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