July 23, 2008
Some of the most frequently asked questions by Foundation Directory Online subscribers are about the data in FDO. Recently, I posed some of these questions to our resident data guru for his expert insight. Here’s what David Jacobs, Senior Editor at the Foundation Center, had to say:
Q. What is the source of the data in Foundation Directory Online?
A. The primary source of the data in FDO is the IRS Form 990-PF for foundations and 990 for grantmaking public charities. In addition, the Foundation Center’s editorial staff collects and updates data from grantmaker web sites, annual reports, printed application guidelines, and the philanthropic press. In all, we continually monitor more than 35 information sources to verify the details in our comprehensive database. We are also in constant communication with grantmakers nationwide through telephone calls, surveys, and electronic reporting.
Q. What are some of the ways that the Foundation Center's editorial staff adds value to the raw data it collects?
A. That’s a great question, and one I’m eager to address. The Foundation Center's editorial staff analyzes and indexes a great deal of data to make targeted searching possible. For example, grantmakers are assigned any of almost 1,100 terms identifying ther giving interests; grants are assigned any of almost 1,100 terms identifying their purpose. You’ve also probably noticed the financial data breakdowns that we provide. And many grantmaker profiles include thoughtfully-written background statements and program descriptions (great for keyword searches) that you’ll find nowhere else. All of this represents just the tip of the iceberg; we work hard to provide unparalleled intelligence on grantmakers and their grants and to present all of the data in an organized and user-friendly format.
Q. How frequently does new and updated data appear in Foundation Directory Online?
A. Currency is something we take seriously at the Foundation Center. New and updated grantmaker, company, and grant data appears weekly. As for grantmaker-related news articles, job opportunities, RFP announcements, and publications, these appear daily. New IRS Forms 990-PF and 990 are posted when they become available from the IRS.
Q. How can I tell when information was last updated?
A. The date on which the Foundation Center’s editorial staff last updated a grantmaker profile appears on the right side of the screen at the top of the Profile tab.
Q. What should I do if I discover that information needs to be updated?
A. We encourage subscribers to contact us with updated information. In fact, it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that you might hear about a change in your local philanthropic community before the news spreads. A link at the bottom of grantmaker and company profiles can be used to e-mail the Foundation Center's editorial staff with updated information.