Foundation Directory Online Professional (FDO) is a comprehensive research tool on institutional philanthropy, with multiple sources of data that make it both flexible and powerful. Visit the Foundation Center's New York library (open Tuesday-Saturday) to use this database free of charge.
Here are just a few things you can do with FDO and some search strategies you may not have tried recently.
FDO posts affiliation information for the trustees, officers, and donors of foundations, so, in addition to searching for board and staff working within a foundation by name (which you can do as a Keyword search), you can also:
Use the Trustees, Officers, and Donors search field to enter the name of a company ("Time Warner"); college or university ("Smith College"); nonprofit or association ("Harlem Children's Zone"); or institution ("New York Public Library") to find foundations whose board members, officers, or donors are associated with a company or institution with which your organization is also connected.
Find All the Angles
Power Search, the search engine within FDO that allows simultaneous searches of Foundation Center content, connects you to news and research that can make you a savvier grantseeker. For example:
Enter a phrase like "Venture philanthropy" in Power Search.
- Your results will list the grantmakers that the Foundation Center classifies under this descriptor and the grants awarded in this subject.
- The same search results will also point to news that keeps you current on the topic (since your funders may know a lot about it); to books and articles to broaden your perspective; a current grant opportunity that a funder has announced; and maybe even a job or two.
This is crucial in the data-rich and competitive environment in which nonprofits vie for support.
The geographic filters you use in FDO make all the difference in your search results. You probably know these two ways to set geographic parameters for your results:
1. Geographic Focus, to find funders by their stated primary geographic focus(es)
2. Grantmaker Location, to find funders by location (with six geographic categories)
But these aren't the only ways to find funding interest by location. If you're an international organization or a U.S.-based one with operations outside the U.S., take note that many foundations that have funding interests in particular countries may NOT be classified as funding internationally in the Geographic Focus field.
Because of this, always remember to run these back-to-back searches:
1. By Geographic Focus:
- Select "International" or "National; international" from the Geographic Focus index.
- Select terms that describe your programs, the population groups you serve, etc. from the Fields of Interest index
2. By Fields of Interest:
- Use the Fields of Interest index to find countries, continents, and regions of the world. Select appropriately; for example, "South America OR Brazil".
It is also always wise to check out the Search Grants section of the database, where more than 2.8 million individual grants awarded during the past 7-8 years are indexed, for additional evidence of funding to the country or region of the world where your organization works.
- Use the Recipient Location State/Country field to find recipients of grants in the country in which your organization works or seeks to operate.
- Use the Subject field to find grants awarded with a focus on specific countries to organizations located anywhere.
Use Information About Grants Awarded
As I said above, the Search Grants section of Foundation Directory Online contains close to 3 million grant records of funding awarded by foundations during the past 7 to 8 years. Using this section to find grants awarded to projects similar to yours is one of the most useful ways to find foundations that have provided the kind of funding your project needs.
Now, since many foundations prefer not to specify the types of support they give, it is also a good way to find foundations that have given the specific kinds of grants you are looking for. Open up the Types of Support index and find terms that correspond with aspects of your project. Foundation profiles also have a Search Grants tab that you can use to run a similar search within a specific foundation's previously awarded grants.
The Types of Support index contains terms not used in the Search Grantmakers section of the database, including:
- Performance and productions
- Electronic media and online services
- Computer technology
- Collections management/preservation
- Commissioning new works
- Seed money
If your program needs support for one of these types of activities, you might want to consider starting your search in the Search Grants section of the database.
Online and Common Grant Applications
You can search Foundation Directory Online using the keywords "online application" (in quotes) to find foundations that are working with this type of format. You can also search for foundations in your area that accept the "common grant application" (in quotes, as well), and if these are available online, FDO will provide the link.
Upcoming post… Learn how to map your funding research results with Philanthropy In/Sight, our great tool for creating customized funding maps.
-- Inés Sucre