Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the background of the Funding Information Network?
The Funding Information Network was begun more than 50 years ago, informally, with the installation in the late 50s and early 60s of a few satellite "depository libraries" in Illinois, Kansas, and Texas. These libraries provided some of Foundation Center's books and materials on foundations for public use. Since that time, the network was grown each decade to include partners in all regions of the United States, and in multiple countries worldwide.
Q: What is the purpose of the Funding Information Network?
Foundation Center has five physical offices; these locations are places where people can take fundraising classes, learn about foundations, and find actual funding support for their nonprofit projects.
But while our offices can be found in just five cities (Atlanta, DC, Cleveland, New York, and San Francisco), our Funding Information Network enables us to reach thousands more people in communities across the country and around the world. The program consists of hundreds of community-based organizations that house and provide - free of charge to the public - a suite of our trainings and databases to their local communities.
These network partners can be found in every corner of the United States and in several countries around the world. Funding Information Network organizations are deeply committed to being the fundraising information hub in their communities; they host trainings for the public, give one-on-one support to those with questions on the fundraising/proposal writing process, and provide free access to Foundation Directory Online, our flagship database of foundations and grantmaking organizations.
The Funding Information Network's vision statement is a social sector strengthened by local access to the best Foundation Center knowledge and tools designed for making positive change in communities across the country and around the world.
Q: What is the cost of joining the network?
Network partnership with Foundation Center's Funding Information Network requires an annual fee of $2,995*. For this fee, network partners gain access to Foundation Center's suite of products, including three database subscriptions and exclusive Foundation Center training materials (an overall retail value of over $10,000).
The fee is billed on an annual basis (12 months). In addition to Foundation Center's premiere products and training materials, network partners benefit from free in-person and online training and conferences as well as a wider network of like-minded partners who are working in the field of nonprofit and fundraising information services.
Annual partnership fees are subject to change.
Q: How do I apply for a subsidy?
We strive to ensure that organizations of all sizes have the ability to access our resources for sharing with their communities. In an effort to assist those who may need support with the annual partnership fee, we offer limited subsidies to prospective and existing under-resourced network partners, based on their operating budget size.
- Organizations that are in the process of applying to Foundation Center's Funding Information Network.
- Current Funding Information Network partners that are in the process of renewing their annual partnership.
- For both incoming or renewing partners, the total organizational operating budget must be under $3,000,000 USD. Note that budgetary information may be subject to verification by Foundation Center.
General subsidy information
- Subsidies of up to $500 USD are available for organizations to apply to the cost of their network partnership in a single year. Subsidy requests from prospective applicants should be completed during the initial application process and cannot be applied retroactively.
- Organizations are eligible to receive one subsidy per calendar year, and must reapply for subsidies each year they are needed. The program is not intended to be a permanent component of an organization's financing approach to network partnership.
- Subsidies will be awarded on a first-come-first-served basis, and are subject to availability.
- The organization receiving the subsidy will be responsible for the balance of the partnership fee, which must be paid prior to full designation as a new network partner. Subsidies cannot be combined with any other special offers or discounts.
- Foundation Center reserves the right to discontinue the subsidy program without prior notice.
How to apply
Q: Who makes a great network partner?
Active, engaged network partners are what drives the Funding Information Network. A great partner is plugged in to their community needs in a fundamental way. They have (or are willing to begin establishing) connections with local funders, nonprofit agencies, and other community organizations in order to promote the value of the program and to invite community members to take part in its trainings and orientations.
Network partners might be local libraries, United Ways, community foundations, or other nonprofit entities. Partners provide Foundation Center resources to the public free of charge, are constantly going out into the region to meet people where they are, hosting trainings, orientations, database tutorials, and other events to constantly bring in new customers to use their services.
Partners also communicate back to Foundation Center to share the work they're engaging in and impact they are having at the local level. In this way, many network partners forge collaborations both with Foundation Center and with other partners in their regions that serve to amplify their message and deepen their impact even further. In short - ideal network partners are seen as community leaders and anchors, they are committed to sharing their resources in new and innovative ways, and they are constantly reaching outward for greater impact.
Q: How does the program benefit my community?
In a recent survey of Foundation Center customers working in fundraising, 60% of those who have actually received a grant in the past 2 years stated that our resources were an important reason for their success.
Having a program in your community means that the people who are seeking to improve your community through nonprofit projects and agencies can advance their knowledge and skills at the local level and apply those skills to their work.
Network partners plug in to the most comprehensive, highest-quality, and internationally-known tools and resources for fundraising that members of their communities need in order for their local nonprofit projects to thrive. And partners provide those resources to their community members locally, whether it's at the local library, United Way, or community foundation.
Simply put, network partners can positively effect the improvement of their communities and their communities' nonprofit players.
Q: How does the program benefit organizations who become partners?
Network partners ARE the nonprofit funding experts in their communities. Beyond that, partners drive economic development by supplying local nonprofits with fundraising information and skillbuilding opportunities to successfully fund their projects and make their programs financially sustainable.
Network partners ask - and then through their resources, they answer - one central question: "Are the funders with good intent in this community connected to the people who are solving problems in this community?" This ability to be the established connection point between these two major agents of local change is a powerful position to hold.
Being a network partner also means that your own organization can use the world-class funding research database that you are offering to your communities - and at a deep discount compared to what you would pay as an organizational subscriber.
Additionally, benefits include:
Brand and Program Model
- The ability, as a trusted partner, to tap directly into the global credibility of Foundation Center's brand name.
- Enhanced visibility for your organization with funders and other nonprofits in your community through the exclusive resources and learning opportunities you provide, and through Foundation Center referring customers to your organization.
- Access to Foundation Center-developed training materials, network partner development tools, and how-to guidance for successful program implementation at the local level.
- Foundation Directory Online Professional, the nation's most comprehensive grantseeking resource for nonprofits and consultants. With over 3 million records in our grants database, it's easy to see who is receiving funding and why.
- Foundation Grants to Individuals Online, providing over 10,000 records on grantmakers that support individual grantseekers. Updated weekly, it's an ideal resource for students, artists, and researchers.
- Foundation Maps, an interactive mapping tool that can quickly create maps that reveal patterns of giving and funding relationships.
Training and Technical Assistance
- On-demand assistance and extensive train-the-trainer materials to help you deliver onsite workshops for grantseekers.
- Free national and regional Funding Information Network conferences, convened by Center staff.
- Virtual and in-person outreach from Center staff. When possible, Center staff will support trainings, events, and meaningful connections with community organizations and funders.
- Exclusive access to the Funding Information Network web portal for network partners, which contains training materials for use with the public, promotional templates, publication order forms, calendars of upcoming events, and a partner directory.
- Free admission to the Foundation Center's online and in-person advanced training programs nationwide (space permitting).
Core Collection Materials
- Foundation Directory Online Professional
- Foundation Grants to Individuals Online
- Foundation Maps
Q: How do I apply, and what is the process like?
Once your application has been received, Foundation Center staff will review your application and get in touch with you to discuss your partnership viability. Once accepted, you'll agree with the Standards of Operation, pay the annual fee, and begin to get set up with the database subscriptions and other materials at your site.
To help you prepare:
Below is a list of the main questions we ask in our application to become a network partner:
- How did you first find out about the Funding Information Network (formerly known as the Cooperating Collections program)?
- Why does your organization wish to join the Foundation Center's Funding Information Network?
- Who will support the cost of the yearly access fee and future enhancements to your partnership?
- Will you be exploring the option of a Foundation Center subsidy to support the cost of your network partnership?
- Is your organizational leadership (director, CEO, and/or board members) aware of and in support of your pursuit of this partnership with the Foundation Center?
- What region do you serve? (please indicate the parameters of your service area - county, city, region, etc.)
- What are the basic population characteristics of the community you serve? (income levels, ethnic makeup, etc.)
- Who in your community do you envision will utilize the materials and trainings you'll provide as a network partner?
- How many nonprofit organizations are located in your service area? Note: U.S. organizations can use GuideStar to find this number>
- Does your community have a unique, established and/or growing nonprofit sector (e.g. an arts district, an environmental movement, a large healthcare sector)?
- Are you interested in working with the Foundation Center to gather giving data on your country's philanthropic landscape?Primarily for international applicants
Public trainings and assistance
- Do you have access to a computer lab and/or training facilities?
- Do you have access to the Internet and equipment for training the public on Foundation Center resources?
- How often will you offer learning events for community organizations in your area?
Outreach and promotion
- How will you promote events to nonprofits and relevant collaborating organizations in your community?
- If you have one, will your marketing/communications department be able to provide support in your efforts to promote your network partnership to your community?
- What relevant collaborative partnerships do you have or will you establish that will support your work with the nonprofit community?
Providing free access
- Do you agree to provide reference assistance and access to Foundation Center databases and books to the public free of charge?
- How many hours per week will you be open and available to the public?
Staffing the program
- Who will perform the duties of supervisor for your location?
- How many staff members will work with the supervisor to deliver and maintain Foundation Center resources?
- Please indicate your preparedness to provide funding for travel to a Network Days conference, or to attend virtually.
- Please indicate your preparedness to provide internal training to members of your staff/team to ensure that more than one person at your site knows how to administer Foundation Center resources.
Foundation Center staff visits
- Would you like to explore adding a Foundation Center staff visit or training to your network partnership application?
- Please indicate your intent to post prominent brand affiliation with the Foundation Center as a partner in the Funding Information Network.
- Please indicate your willingness to publish a welcome page (URL provided by the Foundation Center) on your web site that serves as the gateway to all Center resources in one place.
- Please indicate the designated network supervisor's ability to submit regular (annual and on request) reports to the Foundation Center on how the program is faring at their location.
To complete the application, applicants will be asked to submit the following supporting documents:
- A copy of an annual report with financial statements for the organization.
- At least two letters of support from organizations in the community, including nonprofits that will use the resources and funders that will support it, if applicable.
Q: What is expected of partners?
Network partners must agree to the program's Standards of Operation, which includes benchmarks such as: being open to the public, without restriction or fee; being located in an area serving at least 100 nonprofit organizations; providing access to a computer(s) connected to the Internet for public use; having staff available to develop expertise in foundation funding sources and to assist the public in their use; offering public training on the basics of grantseeking; sending representatives to Foundation Center's meetings of network partners; paying the annual membership fee.
Standards of Operation:
Area of Achievement: ACCESS
Standard of Expectations
- Assign one lead staff person to provide knowledgeable and courteous assistance to the public for use of Foundation Center resources.
- Provide free public access 24 hours a week to Foundation Directory Online Professional, Foundation Grants to Individuals Online, and Foundation Maps.
- No fees may be charged for reference services, or for access to Foundation Center resources.
- You can have as many simultaneous users on the databases as you wish, but use must be restricted to within the "four walls" of the building that houses the collection.
- Access to the databases is for the public, the network supervisor, and staff who work closely with the program.
- Provide access via multiple public computer terminals, via WiFi connection, and/or via loaned laptops or tablets.
- Install Foundation Center's Welcome Page for Network Partners.
- Offer Foundation Center and other grantseeking resources beyond the core collection.
- Expand access to critical funding information tools by getting discounted Enterprise Access to the core collection databases.
- Broaden your nonprofit program by taking advantage of your network discount.
Area of Achievement: TRAINING
Standard of Expectations
- Present 2 free public training programs per year, which highlight effective use of Foundation Center resources.
- Submit training feedback after each training you host (minimum 2 feedback forms per year).
These sessions may be led by the supervisor and/or other organization staff or appropriate guest speakers, and they can be scheduled during site visits by Center staff. A Foundation Center public webinar, hosted at your location, can also count as one of your two required trainings.
- Develop customized trainings.
- Take training into your community by signing up for temporary off-site access to databases.
- Host an advanced Foundation Center training or webinar at your location.
Area of Achievement: PROMOTION & NETWORKING
Standard of Expectations
- Indicate affiliation with Foundation Center and the free availability of Foundation Directory Online Professional and other core collection materials by linking to any designated pages provided by the Center to network members and by posting signage stating that this is "A Funding Information Network partner of the Foundation Center."
- Share and promote your trainings and programs on the GrantSpace calendar (at least 2 postings per year).
- Promote your program in your community via newsletters/email lists, social media, online calendars, flyers, press releases, and word of mouth.
- Foster relationships with local nonprofits, funders, libraries, government agencies, and media outlets.
- Collaborate with other FINs in your state and region.
- Join the FIN groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Area of Achievement: SUSTAINABILITY
Standard of Expectations
- Have support staff trained to assist on Funding Information Network databases and trainings.
- Inform decision makers in your organization about the FIN program.
- Attend one Foundation Center professional development activity a year (options include Network Days, Virtual Network Days, Network-exclusive webinars, in-person classes/workshops).
- Complete the Network Achievement Report once yearly.
- Encourage support staff to attend Foundation Center professional development activities.
- Develop a succession plan for the continuation of you FIN program.
Q: What can we expect to receive from Foundation Center as a network partner?
For an annual fee of under $2000, network partners gain access to Foundation Center's suite of products, including three database subscriptions and exclusive Foundation Center training materials (an overall retail value of over $10,000).
In addition to the Center's premiere products and training materials, network partners benefit from free in-person and online training opportunities and conferences as well as a wider network of like-minded partners who are working in the field of nonprofit and fundraising information services.
A dedicated staff team administers the program - answering questions daily via email, phone, and on-the-ground touchpoints. At our five field office locations, Center staff serve as local regional contacts for network partners, providing training, outreach, and support.
In addition, Foundation Center hosts an annual free conference, Network Days, which is exclusively for partners. Network Days is widely acclaimed as an energizing 2-day event that allows network partners from across the globe to meet, learn, and grow. Network partners also connect online anytime, via two exclusive online groups, sharing knowledge, stories, and collaborative thinking.
Finally, Foundation Center hosts the Ask Us chat program, where ace staff librarians answer tough fundraising and nonprofit questions, helping partners who may not have the expertise themselves. We also offer hands-on training materials for our classes, including exclusive train-the-trainer webinars, so partners can enter the classroom and teach our content with ease and confidence.
Q: Whom can I contact for more information?
You can contact the Funding Information Network team at any time by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (212) 807-2576.