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November 24, 2014

15 Tips for 15 Years, Part 2

6a00e54efc2f80883301bb07a1d062970d-120wiWe’re celebrating the 15th anniversary of Foundation Directory Online by offering 15 insider tips, secrets, favorite searches, and other hints to help you get the most out of FDO. We’re counting down from 15 to 1.

See our previous post for tips 15-11. Today we’ll look at the next five strategies.

10. Build customized reports with Update Central

FDO Professional's Update Central is where you can build customized reports for more detail on each month's additions and updates. Update Reports can be customized by state or states in any one of three categories: new grantmakers; high growth grantmakers; and grantmakers with recent changes. Many of our Professional subscribers use these reports to identify new funders and stay current on developments in their state. A nice feature of the “recent changes” report is that the changes are highlighted for you in the list, so you can see at a glance what’s new at those foundations and then simply click through to see the full FDO profile.

9. Stay in the know with Update Alerts

Update Central also lets you create monthly Update Alerts, useful because they contain summaries of additions and updates to our grantmaker database during the previous month in the same three categories as the Update Reports. To receive FDO Update Alerts, click the Update Central link on the home screen. These monthly alerts are useful because they remind Professional subscribers to visit FDO's Update Central to build customized reports for more detail on each month's additions and updates. 

The next few tips come from Elyse Klova, training specialist in Foundation Center’s Atlanta office and part of FDO’s product development team:

8. Find prospects quickly by searching for grants made to similar organizations.

Use "Recipient Name" field in the grants search to see what foundations have made grants to organizations that have similar missions and similar programs. Foundation fundraising isn't a zero sum game, so the fact that a foundation might be funding an organization that is similar to yours doesn't mean that they wouldn't fund yours: actually it's often the opposite. A foundation's interest in a similar organization suggests good mission and geographic fit—both good indicators that you are more likely to get a grant.

Click on the Recipient Name index to look up grants made to similar organizations. Another time-saver: with the filter, you can quickly find their name without having to scroll through the alphabetical list. Just start typing the name of the organization you have in mind to see if they're in our grant data, select the name to enter it into the field, and press "search" to see what funders have awarded grants to them. When you click on each grant to see the record, check out what the grant was given for. If the recipient type and subjects look good, click the Grantmaker tab at the top of the record to check out the funder.

7. Find out about board connections using grantmaker profiles.

Often, board connections can help build stronger relationships with prospective grantmakers. There are a number of different ways to use FDO to find out about board connections. One quick way is to copy the lists of board members from the grantmaker profiles of each of your prospects; put in a Word document, Excel Spreadsheet, or even email; and send out to your board to see if your board members have any connections. You can also reverse it and ask your board members if they have connections who they know sit on boards, and look up those connections using the Grantmaker Search index for Trustees, Officers, and Donors to see if they sit on any other boards that you may not have been aware of. 

 6. Use the Narrow Your Results menu to summarize grants data

This is one of my personal favorites. With more than 4 million grant records in our database, a grants search can often pull up thousands of results. How can you possibly process all that information? I like to look at the Narrow Results screen (to the left of your search results list) to answer a couple of questions. Because each search facet is organized from most grants to least grants, with just a glance you can see what foundations are giving the most grants, which organizations are getting the most grants, as well as the top subjects used to classify these grants (which can be helpful for doing more searches later).

We’ll be back next month with our top five! And again, we’d love to hear from you with your favorites!

Not an FDO subscriber? Now’s a great time to get on board so you can use these tips: until 11/30 1/31, new monthly subscribers can buy 3 months and get 1 additional month free! Plus, you’ll get a free FDO training webinar valued at $69. Select “Special Offer” at checkout!


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For the Update Central tip about high growth grantmakers, you say that means there were significant increases in total giving or total assets. Is this dependent on the size of the organization, or is there an actual number or percentage you use to determine if a grantmaker is in a phase of high growth?

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