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Catalog of Nonprofit Literature

Contents and Scope

Please note that portions of the New York library's collection will be in storage off- and on-site after our move to 32 Old Slip. If you do not see an item identified in the Catalog of Nonprofit Literature on the shelf, speak with a librarian.

The Catalog of Nonprofit Literature contains citations to materials collected by the Center's five libraries as well as selected literature from other sources. This authoritative bibliography of works in the field of philanthropy contains more than 30,000 bibliographic entries, most of which have descriptive abstracts. It is arranged according to our in-house classification scheme. To view the latest additions to the database by subject category, see New Acquisitions in the Online Library.

Since 1988, when a retrospective conversion of all the Center's holdings was completed and a new bibliographic service unit was created, the Foundation Center has sought to increase public access to information on philanthropy and the nonprofit sector by identifying, indexing, and abstracting relevant books, articles, and non-print resources such as CD-ROM and audiovisual materials. To this end, the Center established a computerized database and began issuing annual printed volumes of The Literature of the Nonprofit Sector.

The first volume of The Literature of the Nonprofit Sector was published in 1989 and was the culmination of nearly a decade of planning. This first volume was welcomed by scholars at the time as the "single most indispensable research into the printed record of the nonprofit field." The annual supplements the Center continued to publish through 1996 were equally well received.

In 1997, in lieu of printing a ninth volume, the Center released the Catalog of Nonprofit Literature, a comprehensive searchable database that includes all the citations that would have appeared in print in the ninth volume and also cumulates the citations from the eight preceding volumes. This was the first database the Foundation Center put on the Internet, and the first time this valuable research tool was available in a searchable, user-friendly format to those seeking information on the literature of philanthropy.

In December 2000, the Catalog of Nonprofit Literature was further enhanced by the addition of three new search fields (publisher, library location, and record type) so that users can select among a total of nine search criteria. New software was acquired that enabled the database to be updated instantly, and two new report formats were added. More bibliographic data was added, such as the call number for the materials in the Center's libraries, and the Catalog of Nonprofit Literature became the libraries' in-house bibliographic catalog, as well as a unique database accessible universally on the Internet.


Catalog of Nonprofit Literature includes literature of interest to the Foundation Center's various audiences: visitors to our libraries, trustees and staff of foundations and nonprofit organizations, fundraisers, representatives of government agencies, the media, librarians, and the burgeoning numbers of scholars and students interested in reading and writing about the philanthropic sector of American society.

Scope of Coverage

Entries in Catalog of Nonprofit Literature represent the literature on philanthropy, the foundation world, the nonprofit sector — particularly works on such topics as fundraising and proposal development — and works related to charitable giving, including project reports, studies, and statistical analyses. They cover works on theory, philosophy, and workings of domestic and international philanthropy as well as histories of individual foundations. Literature on all aspects of company-sponsored foundations and corporate giving is included, as are materials related to the nonprofit sector, its composition, administration, and management. Included are publications that discuss the impact of government policies and funding upon the sector and the legal and tax implications of local, state, and federal regulation and legislation. Voluntarism and revenue generating activities of nonprofits are also covered. On a selective basis, materials issued by foundations or resulting from studies or projects funded by foundations may also be included.


More than 65% of the citations in Catalog of Nonprofit Literature have abstracts. The Center's bibliographic staff give priority for abstracting to works that report new research, have substantive content, or are directed to a scholarly audience. The abstracts are designed to incorporate informative elements and may include results, conclusions, or recommendations. Works with self-explanatory titles usually are not abstracted, and most of the practical and how-to works are described briefly to indicate the scope of materials.


Catalog of Nonprofit Literature generally does not include entries for reference works commonly found in public libraries. Finally, inclusion in this bibliography does not represent endorsement by the Foundation Center of particular facts or points of view represented by the sources cited.

Contents and Scope
New Acquisitions
How to Search
Locate the Sources Cited in Your Search Results
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