Back to Eye on FDO

Category: "FDO Newswire" (109 posts)

February 14, 2012

FDO vs. CGO, Revisited

Today I'm rerunning a post from 2008 by Dave Clark explaining the differences and similarities between Corporate Giving Online and Foundation Directory Online. It's an evergreen question that comes up now and again, so I thought it would be helpful to repost the explanation.

I'm occasionally asked to explain the difference between Foundation Directory Online and one of our other online subscription services, Corporate Giving Online.

Corporate Giving Online provides access to the profiles of company-sponsored foundations, corporate giving programs, and company-sponsored grantmaking public charities. It also includes the profiles of the companies that sponsor these grantmaking programs.

CGO doesn't contain any data that isn't also included in FDO's two top-tier plans, Platinum and Professional. Likewise, CGO's Search Companies database, enabling users to search across the corporate information of sponsoring companies, is also included in FDO Professional.

So, if you're already an FDO Professional subscriber, no worries. You already have the best of the best. Corporate Giving Online was designed for grantseekers and others interested exclusively in corporate giving but desiring a lower-priced alternative to all-inclusive Professional.

If you're an FDO Platinum subscriber, again, you're not lacking any data. You have access to all of the corporate grantmaker profiles included in CGO. And you'll notice a Company tab at the top of corporate grantmaker records providing access to the corporate information of sponsoring companies. If you'd like the ability to search across the corporate information of sponsoring companies, you can upgrade to Professional at any time and take advantage of that and everything else a subscription to Professional includes.

October 26, 2011

Foundations and Mission Investing

The Foundation Center has just released a new report on the increasing use of mission-related investing by foundations. Key Facts on Mission Investing documents how foundations are trying to achieve social benefits through market-rate and below-market-rate investments known as mission-related investments (MRIs) and program-related investments (PRIs), respectively.

While grants and PRIs generally count toward foundations' charitable distribution requirements, MRIs do not, so they can represent a way for foundations to leverage their endowment investments to further social goals over and above their charitable distributions.

To learn more, read the Foundation Center press release on the new report and download the report iteslf, Key Facts on Mission Investing (4 pages, PDF)



October 18, 2011

It's Annual Survey Time!

It's that time of year again, when we ask you to tell us what you think of Foundation Directory Online. If you give us just a few moments to complete the annual user survey and tell us about how you use FDO, how satisfied you are with different elements of it, and what enhancements to data and functionality you'd like to see us implement, you'll get more than our gratitude. If you'd like, we'll send you a promo code you can redeem for the free Digital Grant Guide (a $39.95 value) of your choice!

Grant guides are available for 25 different subject areas, covering everything grants for everything from AIDS/HIV research, to information technology, to the environment, to housing, and more.These PDF guides provide you with descriptions of hundreds—often thousands—of recent foundation grants of $10,000 or more, with convenient hyperlinks to essential funder information to help you identify prospects and get the grants you need. Just complete the survey, then keep an eye out for an email containing your promo gift code, which you can redeem for the guide of your choice. We'll start sending out the gift codes in about two weeks.

The feedback you provide is an invaluable resource for us as we strive to keep Foundation Directory Online up to your standards and make sure it remains an indispensable source for helping you meet your funding needs. So please, tell us what you think!

August 23, 2011

Jumo-GOOD Rundown

Jumo Last week on the Philanthropy News Digest blog PhilanTopic, President Bradford K. Smith posed a question about a social networking nonprofit portal: 

Jumo — a nonprofit portal built with grant funds from some of America's largest philanthropic foundations — is being acquired by GOOD, which despite its altruistic-sounding name and mission is a for-profit company. Is this what grants are for? 

Brad goes on to pose some interesting questions about the relationship between non- and for-profits, and whether philanthropies — and their grant agreements in particular — are keeping up with the times. 

Read: Jumo: Get Grant, Do Good, Sell

Brad's article sparked a Twitter debate, summarized in another PhilanTopic post:

Read: Jumo and Some GOOD Unanswered Questions

Finally, Antony Bugg-Levine, a managing director at the Rockefeller Foundation, approached the debate in a follow-up post:

Read: Jumo-GOOD: The Future Is Now

August 16, 2011

Giving USA 2011

Robert Bruno from the Foundation Center's Nonprofit Literature Blog summarizes the just-released Giving USA report:

The full report of Giving USA was released last week, and it continues to provide valuable data on giving by individuals, foundations, estates (bequests) and corporations.  The latest findings of Giving USA 2011: the Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2010 published by the Giving USA Foundation include:

  • Total estimated charitable giving in the U.S. rose 3.8 percent in 2010, reflecting the modest economic recovery achieved that year
  • Giving by individuals rose an estimated 2.7 percent   
  • Foundation giving remained steady, falling 0.2 percent. Family foundations provided approximately 48 percent of all grants by independent, community, and operating foundations
  • Giving to international affairs rose an estimated 15.3 percent, the largest percentage increase of any subsector, in part due to various global political and humanitarian crises, specifically the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Read the full post»

Visit Giving USA to get the report»

August 11, 2011

Philanthropy Front and Center: What to Consider When You're Contemplating a Merger

Tracy Kaufman writes on Philanthropy Front and Center - New York today about the complicated topic of nonprofit mergers. As part of a longer series on nonprofit collaboration, Tracy tackles the merger issue with answers to questions such as: Why do nonprofits merge? What types of obstacles might come up? What can be done to facilitate the process? The post concludes with a list of resources for further reading to learn more about mergers.

The post follows from a Foundation Center seminar held on July 27, Nonprofit Collaborations: Focus on Mergers:

Our expert panel was moderated by Sandra Lamb, president and CEO of Lamb Advisors, and featured Ethan Kahn, audit manager at MBAF-ERE CPAs, LLC; Linda S. Manley, legal director at the Lawyers Alliance for New York; and Jill O'Donnell-Tormey, executive director at the Cancer Research Institute. The presenters stressed that while a merger can be extremely beneficial for your organization's financial well-being and your mission, it is also a complicated, costly legal undertaking, fraught with obstacles along the way. Below are a few of the things they recommend that you think about when considering a merger, and ideas on what can make the process more successful.

Read the full post on the New York blog.

If you're interested in learning even more, Grantspace offers several resources on the topic. Here's a selection:

An earlier version of this post credited the Philanthropy Front and Center post to Ines Sucre; the post was written by Tracy Kaufman.

July 13, 2011

Answering the "Future Funding" Question

More funders are asking about nonprofits' future funding options, yet a 2009 report suggests that most nonprofits may not have good answers. What is your answer when donors ask how you will keep your program running if they stop giving you money?

Learn about what funders want to hear when you talk about your sustainability plan, so you'll have an answer ready when (not if) you're asked. Join us for our live Q&A chat on Friday, July 22, 1-2pm ET, with nonprofit sustainability consultant Kevin Monroe. Mr. Monroe is the Managing Partner and Founder of X Factor Consulting, based in the metro Atlanta area.

Join our live Q&A, tap the expertise of our featured panelist, and share your own expertise. We devote most of the hour to your questions and comments! Register now>>

See also our related resources on sustainability:


June 20, 2011

Building Better Online Grant Applications

Tracy Kaufman, library assistant at the Foundation Center's New York library/learning center, blogs on Philanthropy Front and Center this week about the growing trend in online grant applications, the difficulties of transitioning from traditional proposals to online applications, and recommendations for grantmakers on how to make their online applications better.

Onlineapplications With every passing year, online grant proposals become a growing trend for funders looking to streamline their application process and cut down on paperwork. While online applications are likely to continue in their rising popularity, some nonprofits have found it difficult to transition out of the traditional proposal format.

To offer some advice for struggling development staff, last summer we held a special event at the Foundation Center on how to shift proposal development techniques toward an online format with minimal trouble. Our blog post based on last year's event provides a general rundown on how to avoid the pitfalls of electronic applications (including the accidental loss of data and the confusion over unclear instructions) and make your online proposal more effective.

The Ford Foundation and the Tinker Foundation are two of the many grantmakers transitioning toward electronic grant applications. On June 7, we were fortunate enough to bring representatives from each of these funders – John Colborn, the Ford Foundation's vice president of Operations; and Karen Nassi, the Tinker Foundation's Grants and Technology associate – to the Foundation Center to speak directly with grantseekers on how and why foundations choose to switch to an online application format, and how nonprofits can avoid difficulty in adapting to this switch.

The presentation, which also featured the Foundation Center's own vice president for Development, Nancy Albilal, was titled Meet the Grantmakers: Online Grant Applications and Reporting. Our funders were exceptionally helpful in explaining the ways in which online proposals help to streamline the application process, improve data collection about grantees, and reduce administrative paperwork for foundations. They were also tremendously receptive to the questions and concerns of grantseekers in the audience, who have faced a number of challenges in working with proposals in electronic format.

For those who are struggling to put together online proposals for funding, note that using online applications is a relatively new, evolving process for grantmakers, and many are interested in your feedback. Our presenters and audience members discussed many issues relevant to building more effective applications in the future. For organizations considering sharing their concerns about online applications with their own funders, here are some of the recommendations for grantmakers discussed during our program:

    Clearer terminology and instructions. Avoid using too much confusing jargon and make the language of the application equally appropriate for special project funding requests and for general operating support. Your instructions should be thorough and easy to understand, but it will also be helpful to post contact information for anyone with more detailed questions on the application procedure.

    Enhanced flexibility. Some nonprofits find it difficult to explain their organization's mission and needs within the tight constraints of an online application. Consider expanding any character/word limits in your application's text boxes to accommodate more information from the applicant, and think about offering an option for applicants to include extra attachments if they are unable to fit all of the necessary information into the boxes provided.

    Reduce the risk of data loss for applicants. If your web design team can do it, offering a "save and continue later" option will allow grantseekers to build their applications over time rather than all at once. This will lessen the chance of losing any information that they have entered so far. If this is not feasible, it may help if applicants have a clearer idea of what their risks are. If closing a browser tab or clicking the "back" button will cause any data to be lost, a simple pop-up warning that reads, "Clicking the 'back' button may cause your data to be lost. Are you sure you want to proceed?" may help eliminate these problems as well.

    Acknowledge that the application has been received. Many nonprofits have expressed concern that after submitting applications, some funders do not send confirmations of receipt. To include a confirmation will offer applicants greater peace of mind, and reduce the likelihood that they will have to call the funder for confirmation.

    Consider standardization. Standardizing online applications would obviously entail a collaborative effort by the grantmaker community, but if a set of standard application and reporting requirements could be adopted by funders, nonprofits could implement timelier, more streamlined application processes without having to tailor each application quite so specifically to each grantmaker's requests.

Online grant applications are likely to become increasingly common in the future, and a substantial number of funders have already embraced the electronic approach. [Note: You can search Foundation Directory Online using the keywords "online application" (in quotes) to find foundations that are working with this type of format.]

To keep on top of all the current information on online proposals, Project Streamline features an enormous number of helpful resources for grantmakers and grantseekers alike on the subject. To start, have a look at some of its online videos for more information, and browse the report, Drowning in Paperwork, Distracted from Purpose. In addition, for funders looking to research their options for developing online applications, the 2010 Idealware report, Streamlining Online Grant Applications: A Review of Vendors, may be a useful read.

June 15, 2011

Finding the Elusive Major Donor

From Philanthropy Front and Center - Atlanta

Major gifts are an essential component of any successful nonprofit fundraising plan. Compared to other methods of fundraising, major gifts bring in more money at a lower cost. That doesn't mean, however, that cultivating major donors won't require an investment in staff, time, and resources. The organization needs to have appropriate gift policies and recognition programs in place, staff and board members need to be trained and ready to solicit contributions, and time should be spend diligently 
researching prospective donors. Some tips on identifying potential donors from our Prospect Research Basics class:

Start in your own backyard. 
The first place to look for potential major gifts is with your current donors. Those with a past history of giving to your organization are the ones most likely to give again and in higher amounts if asked. Board members, if they don't contribute themselves, should be trained to assist in making the ask from potential donors (see our Your Board and Fundraising class for more). Volunteers may be another source, as a commitment of time and energy to the organization can sometimes lead to a financial investment as well. Lastly, don't forget about past users of your services or alumni. Those who have benefitted from your programs often have the deepest connection to its work and the strongest interest in seeing the organization succeed. 

Look at who's giving to similar organizations.
Individuals who have contributed to other nonprofits in the same field or geographic area may be potential donors to your own organization. Look for common threads in the causes they support and seek the connection to your own programs and services. Many organizations will post annual donors lists 
on their web sites or in event programs or annual reports. News media often include short items or press releases when a major donation is made to an area nonprofit. And then there are subscription databases like WealthEngine or DonorSearch that can also provide you with details on an individual's giving history.

Follow the money. 
This group will have the least connection with your organization and the lowest conversion rate, but wealthy individuals in the community have the capacity to give beyond others. Lists like the Rich Register, Marquis Who's Who, and the Forbes Celebrity 100 can provide you with names and addresses 
of key individuals at the state, regional, or national level. Just because they have the money, though, doesn't mean that these individuals will also have the interest in donating to your organization. Look again for indications of philanthropic interests or any connections between each individual's business and personal interests and your organization's activities and approach only those that are viable prospects.

As with foundations and corporations, it's important to look for the right fit between a potential donor and your organization. A quality prospect will have the capacity, interest, and willingness to give. Once you've identified prospects, it's time to coordinate the ask. 

May 26, 2011

Got a Summer Intern?

Send them to the Foundation Center!

As more and more students start their summer breaks — as well as their summer internships — many nonprofits are seeing an influx of new temporary staff members. Particularly if they are deep in ethusiasm but lacking in experience, the Foundation Center is a great place for them to learn a lot quickly.

To get your interns started, you might have them take some of our free classes. Grantseeking Basics and Introduction to Finding Funders provide a good overview of foundations and their grants, along with our library and its resources. You can register for them, and see other upcoming programs, on our online calendar. Many of our free classes are also available as webinars, so your intern can even learn from your own office!

Before beginning their funding research, interns should receive a briefing on your organization and the program they will be working on. Specifically, they should know:

  • The subject area, geographic focus, and/or population group the program will serve
  • The type of funding needed: program support, equipment, research, etc.
  • How much funding the project needs

Make sure they know what kind of information you want them to bring back. It might be helpful for the intern to use a worksheet to track what he or she finds on funding prospects. You can download prospect worksheets on our web site. Interns will be able to e-mail research back to your office from our databases, or they can download information to a flash drive. Remind them to ask Foundation Center staff for help — that's what we're here for!