The New FDO is here!

We are thrilled to bring you the new Foundation Directory Online! We have introduced powerful enhancements and features designed to make the process of finding the right funders and conducting research seamless. The new FDO provides…


New and Improved Grantmaker Searching

FDO now features a global search bar and integrated results page to address all your prospecting needs.  One search bar allows you to simply enter a phrase describing your work.  When you enter a phrase that describes what you’re looking for, or search by Advanced Search & Filters fields, you’ll now receive the full range of data on grantmakers, grants, recipients, and 990s in one results page.  One results page allows you to efficiently compare grantmakers, grants and recipients before you dive deeper in evaluating funders, so you can hit the ground running in building strong prospect lists.

Funding insights relevant to your mission

With a growing source of grantmakers, grant and recipient data, you can now get results, trend insights and funding summaries tailored to your field of work based on your search criteria.


Understand the funding landscape

For the first time, see how much funders are giving to your cause based on your search criteria with Amount Funded in your grantmaker search results.


More data and insights with interactive charts and maps to quickly understand funders’ priorities

Enhanced visualizations provide context to your funding search and allow you to see prospective funders’ giving trends and their suitability to your funding needs. Here you’ll be able to gather key insights on how to approach funders, like how much to ask for from specific funders.



Built-in LinkedIn integration to help you unlock prospect networks

FDO provides lists of key decision makers and their affiliations.  Turn insights into action: see who can make an introduction to prospects with FDO’s LinkedIn integration. 


Stay on top of opportunities: Past funders and Other funders to consider

Never miss a funding opportunity, past or present.  FDO further personalizes your prospect research by identifying when a grantmaker has previously funded your organization, so you can rekindle support from organizations who believe in your work. 

Explore other potential funders available within each grantmaker profile— these are grantmakers with similar giving patterns to your search that you might not have otherwise evaluated.


Peer recipient profiles to discover new prospects

Peer recipient profiles can give you ideas on new grantmakers to explore and insights on the funding mix of organizations like yours that can help you shape your funding strategy.

Mobile-friendly for when you’re on-the-go

FDO is also mobile-friendly, so you can keep track of your prospects anytime, anywhere. 


These are just some of the powerful features you’ll experience and that we will continue to improve upon.  The new FDO delivers increased speed and ease to build your prospect funder pipeline, grow your connections to funders, and gather the grantmaker and grant insights you need to successfully identify and approach funders that are a good match with efficiency and agility.  

As the FDO team continues to bring you the highest quality prospect research experience, we look forward to you getting the most out of these new features and enhancements! 


Experience the New FDO→

February 15, 2018

6 Tips  to Effectively Articulate the Impact of Your Arts Programs


Every winning proposal includes a description of how the program will impact the people being served. Funders want to know that their grant is making a difference in the community and how you’re measuring your impact. If you want to convince them your arts program is worth funding, you need to demonstrate that you’ve been tracking progress by providing qualitative and/or quantitative evidence of program effectiveness.

Aside from simply stating that you’ve been achieving program outcomes, how else can you articulate your impact and demonstrate you are a credible partner to consider? 

Here are a few things to consider:


  1. Focus on Funding Priorities

As a key first step, ask, “What constitutes success to the funder?” The answer may be found by paying close attention to the priorities the funder has outlined. These priorities might include promoting accessibility to the arts or providing arts education and outreach. You’ll want to highlight how your program’s successes and goals are aligned with the funders’ mission and activities. For insights into grantmakers' giving, try researching them on FDO to learn about their priorities and mission, and keep updated on how they change over time. 

  1. Be Specific

Your grant proposal should indicate specific metrics your program is aiming for. These quantitative outputs might include the number of performances or exhibitions. Be sure to select SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-related), so you can realistically report your successes in this area. The same metrics from your grant proposal will be compared to your reported outcomes to determine if you met, exceeded, or didn’t meet your goals.

  1.  Determine Indicators of Success

In addition to the quantitative measurements, a funder wants to know how the grant award will help you to achieve short- and long-term outcomes by changing the perception, behavior, and knowledge of program participants. Using qualitative evaluation tools such as client satisfaction surveys or program participant interviews allows you to collect and report on these results. You can also use the information you collect to build the case in future proposals for why your program should be funded.

  1. Use Tools for Tracking Changes

It is important to stay up to date on the latest research on evaluation tools and methods for assessing the impact of programs. Both funders and grantees benefit from services such as IssueLab Results, a collection of reports and methodological guides focused on evaluation. Using these tools helps you to be prepared to write a comprehensive and compelling grant proposal.

  1. Communicate Ahead of Time

Once you’ve received a grant, ongoing communication with foundation staff is key to reporting successful results. A funder does not want to discover major changes to program expenditures or to the program timeline through the final report. It is best to contact foundation staff ahead of time to determine if a formal request is needed to make major changes before the grant period is up rather than after the fact. Delay or lack of communication regarding changes that affect the grant can affect future funding with the grantmaker.

  1. Share Challenges as Learning Opportunities

Beyond writing grant proposals, your organization can use the data collected through various evaluation tools to reflect on what works and what doesn’t. You should use your evaluation results to assess whether activities are being carried out as intended, determine if the quality of your program needs improvement, or confirm the target population is being served. From there, you can tweak your program based on valuable feedback. By communicating challenges and demonstrating how you will use the data and feedback you’ve collected, you demonstrate that your organization is committed to strengthening your capacity to serve.

It can be difficult to articulate the impact of your arts program, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. You can use the tips above and various evaluation tools to tell the story of what your programs are accomplishing. With this story in hand, you should be able to write a compelling grant proposal.

See the original post here.

October 17, 2017

6 Top Tips To Approach Funders

(Including Those Who Are Not Accepting Applications!) 


Foundation Center’s Development Manager, Aleda Gagarin, shares her development expertise to answer the burning question every fundraiser asks themselves:

Does the grantmaker accept applications and should I even consider this funder if they don’t?  

“Do they, or don’t they?” It’s a tempting question to start with when doing grant prospect research, centering on whether or not grantmakers accept unsolicited proposals. It seems like an easy non-starter to help you filter out prospects, but in reality, the question of whether to consider funders not accepting unsolicited proposals is a bit of a catch-22.  On the one hand, it’s not likely that a cold proposal to a grantmaker that doesn’t accept them will get anywhere; on the other, imagine how many proposals grantmakers that do accept unsolicited proposals have to sift through. The likelihood of yours rising to the top suddenly doesn’t seem much better.

Consider Prospects Even When They Don't Accept Applications

There’s a better way to prospect, and it requires longer-term vision and relationship cultivation. It requires a deeper dive into the grants a grantmaker is making, and centers around a deep knowledge and belief in your own work and mission. Ideally, your prospect research will help you narrow down a list of foundations with giving that reflects your cause, your locale, the population you serve, and your mission. From there, you further narrow down the list by selecting foundations who historically giving grants similar in size and scope to what you are looking for. Do not disregard prospects that fit your work and mission in every way just because they do not accept unsolicited proposals.

In development, it is our goal in life to get on the radar of funders that we believe would make meaningful long-term partners in supporting our work financially, helping us develop organizationally, and increasing our ability to serve. The ‘accepting proposals’ question has nothing to do with how well a funder fits with our work. In such cases, we must find other ways to bring our work to their attention — to help them see us a good partner in helping them achieve their own missions. So, how do we get our work in front of them, without being disregarded with a cold proposal? Here are a few places to start:

  • Make sure program officers we want to partner with are on newsletters about our work, so that they can begin to see and understand our work in real-time, and so that we remain on their radar.
  • Network! Make in-person connections at events. Ask questions about other people’s work, and be excited about your own. An event is rarely the best time to ask to apply for a grant, but it’s a great way to start building a relationship that could turn into solid, long-term support.
  • Connect the dots: research who works where and who you know, and ask someone in your circle to make a warm introduction for you. If you're an FDO user, take advantage of FDO's LinkedIn feature to learn more about key staffers and leverage your connections for the introductions you need. 
  • Send your prospect news coverage or other interesting materials that cover the work you do that also aligns with theirs.
  • Be savvy on social media. Connect with them online. Share good content, and ask good questions. This will also help you better understand funders’ changing interests!
  • Invite them for an onsite visit! Ask them to come tour your office, see your work, come to an event. Let them see the value of your work with their own eyes whenever possible.
  • You also never know when a funder might start accepting applications, so approaching funders that are a good fit can give you an advantage in the future. (FDO lets you know in real-time when RFPs are available.) Get to know funders and inspire them to get to know you, so that when the time is right, you’ll be top of mind to receive an invitation to apply.

It seems easy to send off cold proposals to whomever will accept them; but it rarely ever pays off. Build yourself a thorough and thoughtfully researched prospect list, and then consider your best approach. Think outside the box. Prioritize building relationships with funders who you truly believe would make excellent partners and who will both value and improve your work. Don’t stretch your work or water it down into something it isn’t just to fit criteria of a funder who is easy to apply to; believe in your work and focus your development work on finding funders whose missions truly align with yours.

August 11, 2017

New FDO Coming Soon!  

Here’s a sneak peek into what the new FDO can do… 




We are excited to soon unveil a new version of FDO.  Our goal is to make the process of prospect research easier and more productive for you.  The new experience is designed to increase the speed and agility of every search and provide essential insights that help you win grants.  Here’s a look at what the new FDO will do for you…


Find funding faster: Simply describe your work

Getting a list of prospective funders has never been easier.  FDO’s integrated search option will increase the speed and ease with which you search.  The new FDO also provides you with what you’re looking for in one fell swoop, delivering grantmakers, recipients, grants, and 990s in one integrated results page.  With one search you can be well on your way to growing your prospect list.

The new FDO is so much more than a new interface.  For the first time ever, you’ll be able to see how much funders are giving to your cause based on your search criteria.  The amount funded will indicate how much the grantmaker distributes to your area of interest, allowing you to see who are suitable funders and where they focus their priorities.


Visualizing giving trends

Easy-to-read, interactive charts and maps highlight key funding information that provide context to your funding search, so you can quickly understand grantmakers’ giving trends to efficiently find funders that align with your mission.  Drill deeper to gather additional insights to help you effectively determine the grantmaker’s suitability to your funding needs, and solicit grants.   


Make connections that grow your prospect network

Realize the full potential of FDO with FDO’s LinkedIn tool.  Within each grantmaker profile, you can see who works at the grantmaking organization and who you’re connected to – a LinkedIn icon will appear next to those you are connected to.  Introductions are one of the most effective ways to get on a funder’s radar.  Find out who in your network might be able to connect you to the funder. 


Discover other funders you might have missed

Each profile provides you with additional funders that share similar priorities and patterns of giving.  These other funders to consider are based on subject, geographic area (where the funding is going), and the dollar amount of grants awarded.

When was the last time a past funder issued your organization a grant?  Are you new to the organization and don’t have a list of all previous funders?  The new FDO not only allows you to discover new prospects, but will identify past funders of your organization for you, so that you are prepared when you connect with funders and can ensure the ongoing support from organizations that believe in the work that you do.


Stay tuned for the exciting unveiling…


Visit FDO→

June 05, 2017

FDO Guest Blog Series: Top 5 Questions About Soliciting Grants (From Harbor Compliance)

We're excited to announce a new guest blog series, brought to you by Foundation Directory Online. On a monthly basis we want to share with you insights from industry experts that we think are essential to fundraising success. Topics could include how to approach federal funding, how to talk to funders, how to diversify your funding sources, and more! 

First up? This post from Harbor Compliance, a trusted source used by 10,000+ organizations to ensure their licensing is in order. See the answers to the top 5 questions they receive around grant solicitation below, and make a plan to make sure your organization stays compliant with each grant application!

Top 5 Questions About Soliciting Grants

Did you know that applying for grant funding is considered soliciting in nearly all states? Yes, you heard us right. Before you write that grant application – or hire someone to write it for you – be sure you understand state charitable registration requirements! Below, we break down five common questions surrounding grant solicitation.


  1. Does applying for grant funding mean we are soliciting?

Forty-one states require registration for nonprofits that solicit contributions within their borders. “Soliciting” takes place in many forms: mail, email, online, special events, and more. What might surprise you is that in most states, applying for grant funding is also considered soliciting.

Generally, nonprofits are required to register prior to soliciting in most states. That means if you plan to apply for a grant, you must look at state registration requirements before you consider applying. Additionally, many grantmakers require applicants to submit proof of state registration with their request for funding. By registering properly, you not only help ensure compliance with state laws, but also demonstrate a higher sense of responsibility to the grantmaker.

  1. We apply for grant funding. Now where do we register?

Registration generally takes place where the foundation giving the grant is located, and not necessarily where your organization operates. For example, if you run a Pennsylvania nonprofit, you are probably registered with the Charities Bureau of the Pennsylvania Department of State. However, by seeking grant funding from a New York foundation, you generally must comply with the solicitation laws of New York State as well.

If applying for grants is a major part of your fundraising, it’s important to research and plan before jumping headfirst into an application:

  • Check where the grantmaker is located, and whether that state has a registration requirement.
  • See if the grantmaker has any additional compliance requirements, like a copy of your IRS determination letter or state charity license.
  • Create a plan to become compliant with applicable requirements, including foreign qualifying the nonprofit corporation and appointing a registered agent where required.

Keep in mind, most charities solicit beyond just grants. Sending mail, email newsletters, and even having a “Donate Now” button on your website can trigger registration requirements nationwide.

Proactive registration not only helps you achieve full fundraising compliance – it gives you total peace of mind, too.

  1. Does the grant amount affect the requirement to register?

In most states, the act of solicitation triggers registration – not the amount of the grant. Stick to the mantra, “If you intend to apply, you have to comply.” In some states, your organization might be exempt from filing a full registration to solicit based on your total revenue or activities. However, the grant amount may impact your need to file if it is so large that your organization no longer qualifies for an exemption. Again, it’s important to understand how state requirements apply to your organization.

Registration requirements also do not depend on whether you even receive the grant. As you probably know, merely applying for grant funding does not guarantee that you will receive it. Registering to solicit in order to apply for a grant runs a certain amount of risk and reward. However, by registering proactively, you can quickly seek out the next opportunity and be prepared when it emerges.

  1. What if we use a professional grant writer to help us?

Using a professional fundraiser or fundraising consultant in any capacity, including applying for grants, may trigger additional registration requirements for both parties. For example, in Louisiana, nonprofits are generally not required to register unless they use a professional fundraiser. In many states, professional fundraisers and fundraising consultants must also register and maintain their own licenses.

Without the proper credentials, both your nonprofit and the professional fundraiser or fundraising consultant can face penalties for noncompliance. At the same time, your nonprofit may be confronted with an inflexible deadline to become registered – or you could lose the grant opportunity altogether. Don’t let the funds you spend on a grant writer go to waste. Be sure you and your professional are compliant prior to engaging with them.

  1. What’s the best way to manage compliance?

Whether you apply for grants in one state or all 41, you must comply with various state charity registration requirements. Before you solicit, be sure to research state requirements, budget for the time and cost of registration, and take action to get registered proactively in each state where required. Once you become registered, develop a system to manage and submit your renewals on time. Ultimately, choosing compliance confirms your credibility to grantmakers and donors alike, and allows you to solicit without borders.

Keeping up with requirements across multiple states can slow you down and divert time and energy from pursuing your organization’s mission. Harbor Compliance provides full-service charitable solicitation management to accurately keep track of the research, application, monitoring, and renewal of your registrations in each state. The empowers you to focus on what matters most: meeting your nonprofit’s mission.

Contact Harbor Compliance today to strengthen your mission and fundraising efforts.


About the author:

Kim O’Brien, Editor for Harbor Compliance, brings a decade of news, public relations, and lobbying experience to help nonprofits navigate fundraising in the digital age. Headquartered in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Harbor Compliance partners with businesses and nonprofits in every state and over 25 countries to help solve the most challenging registration requirements. Harbor Compliance’s clients range from the largest organizations in the country to fast-growth startups.


May 22, 2017

FDO Now Includes Federal Grant Data

You might have noticed that there are some added terms and search functions on your FDO search page.  FDO Professional now includes profiles and information on past grants awarded for federal funders, increasing the different types of funders included in FDO Professional to four.  To include these funders in your search, simply check the “Include Government Grantmakers” box on the search page. You can also explore the profiles of over 200 grantmakers by selecting “Governmental Organization” or “Governmentally-linked Foundation” in the “Type of Grantmaker” search field. When looking at your results any federal grantmaker will be marked by a special icon so you can easily identify them, and data can go back over the last three years.

If you come across a government grantmaker that you would like to pursue for open grant application opportunities, check to see if your organization qualifies on  It’s important to keep in mind that while government grantmakers have a high total giving amount, this amount is usually distributed amongst many organizations on a national scale.  You’ll be able to determine the dollar amount of a grant and upcoming grant opportunities by clicking on the forecasting site listed in the grantmaker profile. 

Sometimes the turnaround time can be short from when a RFP is posted, and when grant applications are due. Try to get ahead of your peers by monitoring legislation related to your mission, as well as following government officials on social media who tend to focus on developing legislature related to you work. You may get a head start learning about a bill that is close to passing, and would result in funding allocation to your area!

NOTE: At this time FDO only contains federal grants.

You can now see LinkedIn profiles in FDO! But why is that important?

The LinkedIn feature in each grantmaker profile in FDO allows you to use your connections to key members of a grant making organization to begin conversations that might lead to more funding for your non-profit.  Maximize the impact of this feature by connecting with your colleagues, board members and peers in your field in LinkedIn so that you’ll have access to their networks. A majority of funders say they prefer to have a conversation with prospective grantees before they receive their grant proposal, so use this tool as a way to connect to the grantmaker early in the application process!

Where do I find this feature? If a staff member has a LinkedIn profile, you will see a icon next to their name in the grantmaker's profile. Simply click on the icon to be brought to their LinkedIn profile.

How else is the integration with LinkedIn helpful? It’s very common to want to click the “Exclude grantmakers not accepting applications” button when doing a search for a list of prospects, but to do so could be costing you a future funding opportunity.  With some strategizing, and with the help of your network, these funders can still be a prospective funder for your organization.   As long as the grantmaker’s giving priorities and average grant size match your organization’s needs, a conversation sparked by a mutual connection can lead to future funding opportunities!

Helpful Tip:  Make sure you are connected to your board members on LinkedIn and check to see if they have any ties to board members of prospective grantmakers.  If you find that a grantmaker would be interested in funding your organization based on their interest in your subject area and location, and you also find that they’re connected to one of your board members, discuss with your board member the best way you can reach out.  Below is an example of an outreach letter of a board member’s connection to a board member of a grant making organization:

Dear Ms. Jones:

My name is Samara Baker. My colleague/friend/relationship, Micah Harold, is a trustee on your board and suggested that I connect with you regarding your work to increase adult literacy in the Hartford area. My organization, Hartford Reads, specializes in managing successful adult volunteer tutoring programs at public libraries throughout the Hartford area. Last year, we were able to connect 575 adults in the community with tutors to help them increase their reading skills. On average, 84% of the adults we serve in reach fifth grade level their first year; 93% of those who continue services for a second year complete our program reading at the high school  level.

Given your excellent work throughout Hartford in supporting literacy programs for children, youth and adults, and your support of programs that complement our work, I was hoping we might be able to meet discuss how we may be able to partner on this issue. Please let me know at your earliest convenience if and when you might be available. I look forward to the opportunity to speak with you and learn more about your work.

Thank you,


October 19, 2016

New Visualization Feature in Select Plans

Now you can quickly identify a prospect list based on common funders with your FDO account through Funding Pathways. Pathways, a new feature added to Preferred and Professional plans, is your direct connection to foundations who have already expressed an interest in funding causes like yours, as well as to potential partners who share funding sources with you.

Simply enter the name of a nonprofit or foundation, and you’ll be able to see their recent funding activity, leading to an automatic prospect list to kick off your grant fundraising! See an example below for the Alcoa Foundation and three of their grantees:

  Pathways sample

Log into your FDO account now, and click the Pathways banner on your account homepage to start identifying collaborations and new sources of funding!

Your first Pathways visualization will prepopulate automatically starting with your organization (if available), or subject area and geographic focus.

Not a Preferred or Professional subscriber? Upgrade today to get access to this new tool by following these steps:

1. Log into your FDO account
2. Select "Account" at the top followed by "Upgrade Your Subscription" on the next page
3. Select Preferred or Professional plan

Happy fundraising!

January 29, 2016

FDO Release Notes - 1-29-2016

New Account Profile Fields

You may notice next time you log into FDO a message prompting you to update your profile information if you haven’t done so recently. We’re asking for two reasons: For one, it’s always a good idea to make sure we have up to date contact information so we can better serve your account for billing and other issues; for another, we recently added a few new fields to signups. These fields, including information on organization type, size, and subject area, help us understand our users better so we can continue to build a service that best meets the needs of its users.

Please take a moment to go into the Account area, click Update my Profile, and make sure your profile is up to date.

Upgrading to Annual Contract Plans Enabled

Last summer we began offering new subscribers the option of subscribing to an annual plan paid in monthly installments, while still maintaining the existing monthly, annual, and biannual plans as well. If you choose this new option, you are agreeing to maintain your subscription for 12 months – just like an annual subscription – making monthly payments at a lower rate than the regular monthly plan. While you are subject to a penalty fee if you cancel early, that fee will never be more than three months’ payments in total.

We have now added that plan as an option available as an upgrade option for existing subscribers. If you are interested in moving your monthly subscription to this new annual contract plan, simply go to your Account area and select Upgrade. You will get information on the contract plan, pricing, and the early-termination penalty. You will have access to all the same features and data in your current plan; only your payment terms will change.

As always, please keep an eye on this blog for information on new FDO releases as well as search techniques and other valuable fundraising tips.

January 13, 2016

Update Central Announcement

Update Central is currently undergoing significant system maintenance and bug fixing. 

Owing to this, Update Central emails and state reports are unavailable and the data in the monthly table is not being updated. Please check back next month (February 2016) when this work should be complete. We apologize for any inconvenience in the meantime.

Update Central is an FDO feature available to Professional subscribers that allows you to see new grantmakers, grantmakers with recent changes to their profiles, and high-growth grantmakers. Users can see monthly totals for those funders, create an alert to receive the monthly totals by email, and run reports to see funders for the above categories by state.

December 09, 2015

FDO Release Notes - 12-9-15

We will post occasional — usually every three weeks — release notes in this space collecting new features, recent fixes, and other changes. 

What's New/Changed

We have added a preview of grantmaker's giving data to all subscription plan levels. Pointing a mouse over a grantmaker's name on the results screen will reveal a window showing total assets and giving, the funder's URL, top three subject areas funding according to available grant data, high and low grant dollar amounts, and links to news items from Philanthropy News Digest. All grant data used is from the last five years of grants authorized. Fields will only appear if data is available, as not all funders will have linked news items or tabulated grant data to pull from.

All search results screens have been slightly redesigned: the Saved Search option now appears with the search criteria; New and Modify Search buttons are more prominently displayed; and the "Search Within" fields has been renamed "Add Keyword" and moved to the Narrow Your Results field along with the other available search refinements.


Fixed issues with billing subscription upgrades and with the subscription confirmation screen loading properly.


Data updates have resumed after eight weeks of being held static for testing and troubleshooting the new Foundation Center database. Updates of grantmaker, company, grant, and 990 will continue weekly.