How to Search the Foundation Center’s Grant Information for Your Nonprofit
Foundation research for nonprofit grant funding opportunities generally has two phases: Developing a broad list of prospects, and then refining that list until you find the likeliest sources. Here are a few pointers to help you as you cast your net using the Foundation Center tools:
Start with the larger foundations first. Although the United States has more than 80,000 foundations, many of them are very small. As you begin your research, focus on the larger ones by working with the Foundation Directory.
When you’re ready to leave no stone unturned, use the Guide to U.S. Foundations, Their Trustees, Officers, and Donors. Or try FC Search or the Search 990s feature on the Foundation Center Online. These tools allow you to examine every pebble.
Take advantage of indexes and search functions. If you’re using the printed directories, you’ll find indexes that allow you to search by geographic focus, type of support, and subject area. The CD and online tools offer search functions that pull out the same information and point you toward foundations that match your project’s context, focus, and need.
Say, for example, that you want a grant for capacity building to strengthen your organization. If you want to search for that specific term, turn to the Search 990s feature of the Foundation Center Online. Or you can use the keyword search function. The Search 990s feature reviews thousands and thousands of foundations’ 990 and 990-PF tax returns.
Determine whether you or your board members have any contacts who serve on foundation boards. The third volume of the Guide to U.S. Foundations, Their Trustees, Officers, and Donors includes an exhaustive index of foundation board members and trustees. You also can gather this information using FC Search or the Foundation Center Online.
Don’t forget that corporations also award grants. The National Directory of Corporate Giving and the Search Companies section of the Foundation Center Online present corporate foundations and giving programs.