How to Use the Foundation Center to Find Nonprofit Grants
Over the past 60 years, information about funding sources for nonprofits has become increasingly available to the public. One milestone in this movement was the creation of the Foundation Center in 1956. Originally intended to collect information so that foundations could learn about one another, the Foundation Center quickly became a leading source of information for grant seekers.
The Foundation Center manages five libraries across the United States and a number of official cooperating collections within other libraries and nonprofits. It also publishes several directories in print, on CDs, and through online subscriptions.
If you can’t find a nearby Foundation Center branch library or cooperating collection, check with local community foundations, larger public libraries, and college and university libraries. These places often have copies of the Foundation Center’s materials. The books and CDs can be expensive for individuals to purchase, so if you can’t find them in a nearby library, you should purchase a short-term subscription to the Foundation Center’s online directory.
So what are you looking for when you’re using these search tools? You want to determine whether a foundation satisfies the following three criteria:
Geography: Does this foundation award grants in the area where your nonprofit is based?
Fields of Interest: Does this foundation award grants in the subject area of your organization’s work?
Type of support: Does this foundation award the kind of grant that you want?
If you answered yes, good work! You’ve found an entry for your broad list of prospects. Strive to come up with a list of about 15 or 20 names.
The Foundation Center directories are dense with information, but each of them contains a helpful introduction and annotated sample listing to help you identify where you can find answers to your questions.