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 the Access Program or $5,995* for the Training Program. 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 fees are subject to change.
Q: Which program is right for my organization, Access or Training?
The Access Tier is intended for those organizations working to support the information and data needs of local nonprofits by primarily providing access and support to our databases, notably, Foundation Directory Online (FDO). Access FINs typically serve a variety of audiences in addition to nonprofits, and therefore will not be required to conduct group trainings on Foundation Center resources. While training is not required for Access FINs, many of these partners may still provide orientations to FDO and other Foundation Center resources, along with any other relevant content and support services. Access FINs are a valued and important part of Foundation Center's extension of mission, helping to provide free access to funding data for nonprofits.
The Training Tier is intended for those organizations that are better equipped to regularly serve the capacity needs of local nonprofits, by providing access to both our databases, as well as our signature nonprofit trainings. Training FINs are more likely to view nonprofits as their primary user audience, and are in a position to regularly deliver group learning opportunities. Training FINs are Foundation Center's credentialed training partners in the field, working closely with our own training team to share and co-develop best practices for supporting nonprofit capacity building needs.
Q: What types of organizations can join the network?
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(s) that you are offering to your communities - and at a deep discount compared to what you would pay as an organizational subscriber.
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, you can review the list of application question detailed at the bottom of this page.
Q: What is expected of partners?
The Funding Information Network is an extension of Foundation Center’s mission. Through partner locations, underserved nonprofits can access resources they might not have been able to given their limited capacity. Foundation Center regularly refers users these partner location, and we know they will have a positive experience because of our FIN program standards for operation.
Our standards allow users in your community to know what to expect when they show up at your door. Since 2015, we have conducted the annual Network Achievement Report, which evaluates all of our FINs on their dedication to our standards. Since 2015, 99 percent of FINs responding are meeting or exceeding basic standards for operation.
Our standards are slightly different for our Access and Training programs. See more about program eligibility and standards on this page.
Q: What technical assistance can we expect to receive from Foundation Center as a network partner?
Network partners gain access to Foundation Center's suite of products, including three database subscriptions and exclusive Foundation Center training materials.
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: Who do I contact for more information?
You can contact the Funding Information Network team at any time by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.