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:
Foundation Center electronic and print publications contain indexes organized to facilitate these three approaches.
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.
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 up to 88,000 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 900,000 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 88,000 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 some Cooperating Collections offer free access to the Foundation
To compare FC Search with the Foundation Directory Online (at all levels), see this comparison chart. You will need the Adobe Reader in order to view the chart.
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
(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.
Specialized funding directories.
Foundations are often listed in directories that cover a particular
subject field, population group, or type of support. The Foundation
Center's National Guide to Funding in Arts and Culture, Corporate Resource Consultants' National Directory of Foundation Grants for Native Americans, and Oryx Press' Directory of Research Grants are all examples of specialized funding directories. The Foundation Center publishes a number of directories
that focus on the major funders in specific subject areas. These
subject directories combine descriptive information about the
foundation with selected grant records. They also include
indexes, and specialized bibliographies.
Using the Geographic Approach
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
publications are available for reference use at Center libraries and
selectively at Cooperating Collections.
There are a variety of electronic and print publications that can help you locate potential donors by geographic focus.
Both FC Search and 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.
To help you locate small, locally oriented foundations not listed in other reference books, the Guide to U.S. Foundations, Their Trustees, Officers, and Donors
includes entries on nearly 70,000 grantmaking foundations and is
organized by state; within each state, foundations are listed in
descending order by total grant dollars awarded.
The Center's subject specialized directories, such as the National Guide to Funding in Health and the National Guide to Funding in Arts and Culture, have the same indexing features as The Foundation Directory.
The Foundation Center also publishes a number of specialized directories based on geographic areas. These include the Guide to Ohio Grantmakers on CD-ROM, Directory of Missouri Grantmakers, the Michigan Foundation Directory (also available in CD-ROM format), and the Guide to Greater Washington D.C. Grantmakers on CD-ROM.
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
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.