Foundation Directory Online – an overview (& as always – upcoming programs)

One of the resources that draws people to the Grants & Foundation Center (GFC) at SLPL Central is access to the Foundation Directory Online (FDO), an online tool that helps nonprofit organizations look for possible sources of grant money. FDO is one of the many resources made available by the Foundation Center, itself a nonprofit based in New York City that the GFC librarian likes to refer to as the "matchmaker between the folks with the big pots of money and the people who are on the ground doing the hard work of trying to make our world a better place." FDO is a subscription service which SLPL, as part of the Foundation Center Funding Information Network (FIN) is pleased to provide access to as part of the Library's mission: to  "provide learning resources and information services that support and improve individual, family and community life."

Unlike most of SLPL's online resources which can be accessed at SLPL branches and/or remotely from home, work, or school, FDO is available only at Central Library in the SLPL system (note: Kirkwood Public Library and the Spencer Road Branch of the St. Charles City County Library are also FIN libraries which provide access to FDO).  The GFC is located in the Social Sciences room at Central and includes a physical nonprofit library (i.e., BOOKS!) along with the online tools we make available, and while FDO is available on reference computers throughout Central, patrons new to FDO may want to start using this tool in the GFC with the GFC librarian and other staff available for a brief orientation (we are happy to schedule an appointment - just call 314 539-0357 or email lthorp@slpl.org) or to answer questions. Before visiting us, it might be helpful to spend some time exploring Foundation Center's Grantspace.org, including Introduction to Finding Grants, a free online video training, or other Grantspace training offerings, watching some videos on the FDO youtube channel, or browsing through the Eye on FDO blog.

A little over a year ago, Foundation Center revamped FDO to make the search process much more intuitive - as seen in the examples below, the initial approach is to type in what your nonprofit is seeking funding for and where, then hit "SEARCH" (& perhaps cross your fingers).  

For example, the phrase "early childhood literacy in st louis" is interpreted as "reading promotion," "early childhood education," & "St. Louis (Missouri, United States)" and yields 123 potential grantmakers, 527 historic grants that match the search criteria, and the 89 recipients of those grants (also: tax forms). To further narrow the search, the Advanced Search & Filters offers the possibility of specifying the population served, what the nonprofit wants to do with the grant money (program development, capital and infrastructure needs, etc.), and what form they would like the grant to take (usually nonprofits just want the money, but can specify if they are looking for in-kind donations, pro bono services, or something else), and more. 

While you do need to visit Central Library to use the FDO in the SLPL system, much of the information can be extracted by printing lists of leads or particular records, downloading information to a flashdrive, and/or emailing lists or records to yourself to sort through outside of the Library. The records for the individual grantmakers includes information about where they have given grants and for what purposes, what they say they would like to fund, how to apply for a grant, and who's who at the organization.

In addition to the FDO and the books on all things nonprofit (& we are always looking for more titles - share your suggestions with us, please!), the GFC offers free programs at Central Library on topics of interest to nonprofits - last month we had Dan Sise from UMSL's Nonprofit Management and Leadership Program speaking on the important topic "Legal Issues for Nonprofit Board Members" and next up is "Financial Management Basics for Nonprofits" on Thursday December 13 from 3 to 5 p.m. with Mary Kay Lofgren and Becky Knezevich, CPA managers from the not-for-profit division of RubinBrown LLC. We have scheduled our programs through the 1st quarter of 2019; as always, if you go to the SLPL events page and search "GFC" you will pull up our upcoming offerings. We ask that you register so we can have enough seats and handouts, but if you are ever at Central and see that we have a program coming up, feel free to drop in. We also like to plug the programs of our community partners - visit their websites to see what they have coming up:

Hope to see you soon at the GFC!

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