If You Already Know the Name of a Foundation Prospect
All of the more than 100,000 private and community foundations in the U.S. are listed in the Foundation Name Index of the Foundation Directory Online.
For foundations that do not have a web site or issue annual reports, you
will need to refer to the IRS return, Form 990-PF. The IRS requires
that every private foundation file a 990-PF form each year. IRS returns
provide basic financial data, a complete grants list, and other
information on each private foundation. The IRS return is often the
only place where you will find complete grants lists for smaller
foundations. The amount of detail provided on each grant will vary.
sure to check whether a foundation issues printed guidelines,
newsletters, or press releases. This information is listed in most
Foundation Center grantmaker records and might be found on grantmaker
Information Available from Grantmakers Themselves
directly from the source is much appreciated by grantseekers. And this
type of information tends to be more up to date than what you find in
directories or databases. By studying information from the funder, you
can pick up subtle clues as to what motivates the funder along with
specific hints as to preferred styles of approach and actual
restrictions and limitations.
- A comparatively small but growing number of grantmakers have
established sites on the Internet. Some foundations, like the Verizon Foundation,
encourage grantseekers to apply online. The type of information found
at these web sites varies and may include annual reports, background
information on the grantmaker, application guidelines, and information
on the grantmaker's print publications.
- Approximately 1,100 foundations publish annual reports. These
reports generally contain messages from the president, financial
information, program descriptions and grants awarded during the prior
year, application guidelines, lists of trustees and executive and
staff. You should always refer to Center directories to see whether
there is an annual report available when you begin your research on a
- The Foundation Center makes 990-PFs available through our web site (as a link in the Foundation Finder, Foundation Directory Online, and 990-PF Search records) and through our libraries. You also might want to check for 990-PFs at Guidestar.org.
You can examine these information returns without charge at Foundation
Center libraries or request them through a Funding Information Network location.
State attorneys general may have copies of 990-PF returns as well. They
may also be ordered directly from the IRS for a fee. See our FAQ What are 990-PFs and where can I find them? for a list of options on obtaining 990-PFs.
- Some funders distribute sheets or pamphlets containing
proposal guidelines, geographic or other limitations, and application
procedures and deadlines. Printed guidelines quickly give you a sense
of whether or not you might qualify for funding. Always be sure to
review the most current guidelines.
- When a foundation or the government issues a new contract or
grant program, they send out a Request For Proposals (RFPs) to agencies
that might be qualified to participate. The RFP lists project
specifications and application procedures. While a few foundations
occasionally use RFPs in specific fields, most prefer to consider
proposals that are initiated by applicants. The Foundation Center's RFP Bulletin
provides listings of RFPs. Each listing provides a brief overview of a
current funding opportunity offered by a foundation or other
grantmaking organization. This weekly posting is available for free on
our web site, and you can sign up to have it sent directly to your
e-mail box every week.
- A small number of funders regularly issue newsletters that
provide notice of new program directions, announcements of recent
grants awarded, changes in board or staff, and updates on grantmaker
- Similarly, some foundations distribute press releases when newsworthy events occur.
- Some foundations publish grants lists or report their recent
grants directly to the Foundation Center in the form of separate lists.
How Do You View or Obtain Guidelines and Other Materials?
Annual reports, printed guidelines, and newsletters may be available by contacting the funder directly.
these, along with grants listings and newspaper clippings, when
available, will also be found in Foundation Center library files as
well as at many Funding Information Network locations.
After reading this online guide, what should you do next? Here are some suggestions:
Participate in a Foundation Center training program or workshop.
You can attend free or fee-based programs on funding research, proposal
writing, grantmakers and their giving, and related topics at any of our
five libraries. Our free 60-90 minute classes are basic introductions
to the grantseeking process, the Center's resources and how best to
make use of them, along with detailed instruction in a variety of
fundraising strategies. There is no fee for our one-hour classes, but
in most cases, advance registration is
required. The Foundation Center also offers in-depth, full-day,
fee-based courses in our own libraries and in other sites around the
country. Orientations are also provided at many Funding Information Network locations; call for times and availability. Finally, you can attend
special programs at our libraries and learning centers and at many of
our Funding Information Network locations. Among the programs to choose from: Meet
the Grantmaker panel presentations, Dialogue with Donors small-group
discussions, technical assistance breakfasts, film showings, brown bag
lunches, and workshops on a variety of topics.
Take a Foundation Center online training course. These interactive, self-paced, online courses reinforce lessons with interactivity, assignments, and self-tests.
a Foundation Center library and explore its resources: books,
periodicals, videotapes, CD-ROMs, and other computerized databases. All
Center libraries have bibliographies, user aids, and catalogs to help
you find the information you need.
Consider joining the Foundation Center's Associates Program,
a fee-based service providing member organizations with telephone
reference service, access to a special Associates-only web site,
attendance at an annual conference, access to updates on grantmakers,
customized e-mail and computer searches, and photocopying and fax
services. For more information, call (800) 424-9836.
Refer to the Center's publication, Foundation Fundamentals,
for more details on the topics covered here.