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July 2008 (5 posts)

FDO Data
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.

Have a question that’s not answered here? It’s probably addressed in the FDO Help file. You can also e-mail your data question to David Jacobs at dgj@foundationcenter.org.

Thanks, David!

Feedback
July 18, 2008

We've received some nice feedback from subscribers about our new interactive mapping and charting tools. Here are some of my favorite comments (with punctuation and capitalization preserved):

  • Awesome!!!
  • This is fantastic. It will be a great screening tool for us...
  • Groundbreaking!
  • OMG!!! You people are amazing!!! Hats off to you for making an already excellent resource stellar!
  • This is SO COOL!!! THANK YOU!
  • LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!
  • This is GREAT! Very helpful!
  • Excellent!!!
  • Fabulous!
  • This is exactly what our organization needed. Congratulations on your continued improvements.

If you're not already an FDO Professional subscriber, there's never been a better time to upgrade. Look for the Upgrade Subscription link on the left side of the FDO Home Screen or call our Customer Service Department at (800) 424-9836. 

FDO News
July 03, 2008

If you haven't already done so, don't forget to catch up on the latest major developments and more with FDO News. In the June edition, read all about our new interactive mapping and charting tools; check out a list of our top five mapping and charting tips; learn about our grantmaker profile format options; and discover the benefits of a special FDO training class.

FDO News is always available from the FDO Home Screen and is delivered to subscribers via e-mail. If you didn't receive the latest edition, drop me a line at dlc@foundationcenter.org with your e-mail address to ensure future delivery.

Map Colors
July 02, 2008

Yesterday, I mentioned that we added a new List All Grants button in response to the feedback you've provided about FDO's new Professional mapping and charting tools. Today, we made another improvement inspired by your comments and suggestions. You'll notice there's now more of a contrast between the different shades of colors on FDO's maps. We've also increased the size of the color swatches in the map legends. We hope these changes will make it easier to differentiate between the four grant dollar ranges represented on the maps.

Speaking of feedback, there's still time to leave some. Just click the "Tell Us What You Think" link at the top of any mapping or charting screen.

List All Grants
July 01, 2008

Before the introduction of our new interactive mapping and charting tools, Professional subscribers will remember that clicking on the Grants tab at the top of a grantmaker record provided access to three subtabs: Search, List, and Charts. In turn, these subtabs provided access to a search screen enabling you to search across a grantmaker's grants, a search results screen pre-programmed to display a complete list of a grantmaker's grants, and charts illustrating the distribution of a grantmaker's grants, respectively.

While it's fairly obvious that the search screen can now be accessed by clicking on the Search Grants tab at the top of a grantmaker record and the charts have been replaced by our new interactive charting tool, many of you have inquired about whether it's still possible to retrieve a complete list of a grantmaker's grants. Yes, it is. Just click the Search Grants tab and then click the Search button without entering any criteria. Better yet, simply click the List All Grants button that we just added to the top of the search screen today. Either method will generate a complete list of the grants in our database specific to a particular funder.