Finding Funding from Foundations: The Foundation Center

Every year, foundations give more than 45 billion dollars in grant funding. And while last year saw a slight drop in funding, forecasts for 2012 are very optimistic for increased giving. While grant opportunities from very large foundations are sometimes very competitive, there are also regional foundations that give only to local organizations and may have less challenging proposal requirements. Do you know how to locate these opportunities?

Foundaiton Center websiteThe Foundation Center is the largest producer of directories and databases of grant-giving foundations. Their goal is to connect nonprofits to grant makers. The Foundation Center provides many tools, including an "Online Librarian," print resources, and a website for finding foundation profiles, trends in grant making, and top foundations by geographic region. My two favorite resources are the free Foundation Finder, and the 990 Finder to look up details on US foundations, including their tax returns, which can yield information about the foundation's finances, the grants it gives, and who serves as board members. You can search locally to help find those foundations that are primarily interested in giving back to their communities. Take a look at some of the many other resources they provide, of which many are free:

  • The Foundation Center website provides a variety of free search tools, tutorials, downloadable reports, and other information updated daily, including free online newsletters such as Philanthropy News Digest, its daily news service, and RFP Bulletin, a weekly roundup of recently announced Requests for Proposals from private, corporate, and government funding sources.
  • The Foundation's Center Cooperating Collections are available in more than 450 free funding information centers such as libraries, community foundations, and other nonprofit resources centers. They provide free public access to a core collection of publications, resources and free access to online databases produced by the Foundation Center including The Foundation Directory Online (profiles the 10,000 biggest foundations) and materials on topics such as arts and culture, children and youth services, education, environment and animal welfare, health, international, libraries and information services, religion, and social services. They are now accepting applications to host a Cooperating Collection.
  • Five Foundation Center library/learning centers are located in New York City; Washington, DC; Atlanta; Cleveland; and San Francisco and offer free access to information resources and educational programs.
  • Foundation Center databases provide information on the nearly100,000 foundations, corporate donors, and grantmaking public charities in the U.S. and 2.1 million of their recent grants. Its Foundation Directory Online subscription service is the most popular means for searching these databases.
  • Free and affordable classes nationwide cover the funding research process, proposal writing, grantmakers and their giving, and related topics through a full curriculum of training courses — in the classroom and online in the form of self-paced courses and tutorials, as well as webinars.
  • The Foundation Center publishes many books ranging from basic primers on fundraising and nonprofit management to comprehensive reference works. Including:
    • Grants for Information Technology
    • Grants for Libraries and Information Services
    • National Directory of Corporate Giving
    • National Guide to Funding for Libraries and Information Services
    • National Guide to Funding in Arts and Culture
    • Grants for Children & Youth
    • Grants for Women & Girls

What Foundation Center tools do you find helpful? Please share in the comments or take our very brief survey so we can learn from you.