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A Message to Grantseekers
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Beginning Your Research - Nonprofit Grantseekers
Basic Funding Research Strategies
If You Already Know the Name of a Foundation Prospect
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Guide to Funding Research

Basic Funding Research Strategies

Like the individuals or companies who established them, foundations differ dramatically from each other in their giving interests. Your organization has a much better chance of securing funding if you do careful research. Foundation Center resources will help you focus on those foundations whose funding priorities most closely match your project. The most effective results come from using the following three approaches to funding research:

    The Subject Approach

    identifies foundations that have expressed an interest in funding programs in a specific subject field.

    The Geographic Approach

    identifies foundations that fund programs in a particular city, state, or region. Although some give nationally and even internationally, most funders limit their giving to specific geographic areas.

    The Types of Support Approach

    should be used in conjunction with the two approaches described above. Using a type of support qualifier can help you focus on foundations that provide specific types of support such as building funds, seed money, operating support, or endowment funds.

Foundation Center electronic and print publications contain indexes organized to facilitate these three approaches.

Using the Subject Approach

There are a variety of electronic and print resources that can help you examine grants or locate potential donors by subject:

Electronic Directories.

Two comprehensive electronic resources, FC Search and the Foundation Directory Online, allow for subject searching through the Fields of Interest index.

FC Search combines powerful search capabilities with the information contained in a number of Foundation Center print publications. FC Search contains records for over 88,000 U.S. foundations, corporate donors, and public charities and descriptions of more than 340,000 recently reported grants.

The Center's database information is available online through the Foundation Directory Online Subscription Services, which allows you to perform online searches on more than 100,000 grantmakers. The Foundation Directory Online Basic provides detailed information on the largest 10,000 grantmakers. The Foundation Directory Online Plus, also available by subscription, offers over 10,000 grantmaker records plus more than 2.4 million recent grants. The Foundation Directory Online Premium contains records of the country's top 20,000 grantmakers in addition to the grants file. The Foundation Directory Online Platinum offers more than 100,000 detailed profiles of all current U.S. grantmakers and corporate giving programs for 1,400 U.S. companies. And the Foundation Directory Online Professional offers that plus 990 search and company search capability and many additional features. All Foundation Center libraries and Funding Information Network locations offer free access to the Foundation Directory Online.

Directories of foundations.

These directories concentrate on information about the funders themselves rather than their grants. For example, The Foundation Directory (covering the top 10,000 foundations in the U.S. by total giving) and The Foundation Directory Part 2 (covering the next 10,000 largest foundations by total giving) include in each entry the foundation's stated funding interests, when available. An extensive subject index is included in each.

Using the Geographic Approach

Because most grantmakers limit their giving to their own geographic area, it is advisable to find out whether a directory of funders in your city, state, or region is available. The Topical Reading List State and Local Directories: A Bibliography is a bibliography of state and local foundation directories issued by regional associations of grantmakers and a variety of publishers. Many of these publications are available for reference use at Center libraries and selectively at Funding Information Network locations.

There are a variety of electronic and print publications that can help you locate potential donors by geographic focus.

The Foundation Directory Online can be searched using geographic criteria. Both electronic databases have indexes for "Geographic Focus," "Grantmaker State," and "Grantmaker City." Geographic Focus can be used to identify those foundations that give to a particular geographic area. Grantmaker State and Grantmaker City can be used to identify those funders that are located in a particular geographic area.

Directories of foundations.

The Foundation Directory and The Foundation Directory Part 2 are arranged by state and, within each state, alphabetically by foundation name. Bold type in the geographic, subject, and type of support indexes to these directories, indicates foundations that give on a regional, national, or international basis, while regular type indicates foundations whose giving is limited to their own cities or states. In the geographic index, "see also" references at the end of each state section lead you to foundations based in other states that also make grants in yours.

Indexes of recent grants.

Each volume in the subject-specific Grant Guide series is organized by state and includes geographic indexing.

Adopting the Types of Support Approach

Using types of support criteria (e.g., building/renovation funds, technical assistance, scholarship funds, seed money) in conjunction with the subject or geographic approach is a very useful way to further focus your research. Various Foundation Center print, online, and CD-ROM resources index grantmaker and grants information using over forty different types of support terms.
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