Tips for Using Trend Tracker
- What is Trend Tracker?
- Trend Tracker is a charting and graphing tool provided to the public free of charge by the Foundation Center. It allows users to create charts and graphs for any of the nation's top 20,000 foundations. Users can generate a bar chart, line graph, or data table on up to four fiscal categories for a specific foundation or compare a fiscal category across up to five (5) foundations. Fiscal categories available are assets, giving, expenditures and gifts received.
- Who uses Trend Tracker?
- Trend Tracker is designed for use by anyone needing to quickly create a summary presentation of fiscal data for a specific foundation or to compare up to 5 foundations.
- About the data in Trend Tracker
Trend Tracker includes four fiscal categories for the largest 20,000 U.S. private and community foundations, defined at a particular point in time based on their total giving. At the present time, the most recent complete data set—which is required to do comparisons between foundations—is for 2006.
However, due to tax return filing extensions, it can sometimes take years for the tax returns of individual foundations to become available. Therefore, in a small number of cases you will find that data for certain years are missing. And of course, if a foundation began operations during the span of years represented, there may not be any data for the earlier years.
Please be aware that this information comes from several sources, such as Form 990-PF tax returns, foundation annual reports, surveys, etc. Information received directly from foundations takes precedence over tax return data. In particular, for community foundations, wherever possible we use annual reports, foundation web sites, and surveys as source information. These reports generally aggregate financial information for the community foundation and its supporting organizations. This better represents all of the activity of the larger community foundations. Should you find Trend Tracker missing data that you believe is available, please send it to us at Trendtracker@foundationcenter.org.
- Getting started
Trend Tracker has four required fields that must be used to generate your chart:
- Step 1:
- Begin by going to the "Select Grantmakers" box. To activate the word wheel, position
your cursor in the available box and begin typing the name of the grantmaker you are looking for. Keep in mind that the word wheel is in alphabetical order by last name, so for example if you are looking for the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation you should start by typing "Mott" vs. "Charles." Once the grantmaker or grantmakers appear in the "available" box you can either double click on the name to select it or simply highlight the name and click on the forward arrow button to move your selection into the "selected" box. To choose multiple names, hold down the Ctrl key and click on the names desired. When done you can hit the forward arrow key to move them to the "selected" box.
- Step 2:
- Once you have selected the Grantmaker name(s) scroll down to the Fiscal Category drop-down menu where you can choose one of the fiscal categories available: Assets,
Giving, Expenditures, or Gifts received. If you have selected only one (1) grantmaker you will have the additional choice of "All Fiscal Categories" which will display all fiscal information in a single chart.
- Step 3:
- Next you can choose the Fiscal Year(s) desired located to the right of Fiscal Category. You can choose a range or a single year from the drop-down menus. To choose a single year, for example, 2005, you must select that year in both the "From" and "To" box. To choose a range, for example, 2000-2006, select the earliest year in the "From" box and the later year in the "To" box. Note that the "To" year should be greater than or equal to whatever you entered in the "From" box.
- Getting your chart
- Once you have entered your search criteria outlined in steps 1-3 above you can choose how you would like the data displayed. The default is a bar chart but you can choose a line graph or data table by simply selecting the appropriate radio button that appears after the text "Display as." Once you have made your choice click on the Display Analysis button to view your selection. Please note that the bar chart and line graph options may not be suitable for displaying certain results.
When your data is displayed you can create a PDF version by selecting the "Display PDF" option, or you can send a copy to a friend by selecting "E-mail to a Friend." (These options appear on the upper right of the screen).
- The "Modify Analysis" button
- After reviewing a grantmaker's chart or table you have the option of switching to a different format by selecting one of the other radio buttons at the bottom of the screen next to "Change Format." You can also use the Modify Analysis button to change your selection criteria if you wish to regenerate your chart with other criteria.
The New Analysis button can be used to restart the process when you are done with the current selection.
- Other Foundation Center resources
- Trend Tracker may be just the beginning of your research on grantmakers. Once you have obtained the information available from Trend Tracker, you may wish to explore other resources we offer to locate information on grantmakers.
You will find a wide range of free and fee-based resources at the Foundation Center's web site, foundationcenter.org. Additional tools we offer include:
Foundation Finder - a lookup tool made available to the public free of charge providing basic facts on private foundations, community foundations, grantmaking public charities, and corporate giving programs in the U.S. It is designed for those seeking quick access to basic information about grantmakers, possibly as a starting point for more in-depth research.
990 Finder - is another free tool that allows a user to search for an organization's IRS returns. User's can search for an organization's IRS 990 or 990-PF document by name, state, zip code, and EIN number.
Foundation Directory Online - The Foundation Center's online searchable database is accessible 24/7, allowing subscribers to search up to four databases of grantmakers, companies, recently awarded grants, and 990s. Updated weekly, it's the most accurate source for grantseekers who want to generate lists of targeted funding prospects.