Back to Eye on FDO

Category: "Noteworthy Updates" (44 posts)

September 20, 2013

PhilanTopic: Open 990s and FDO Free

(I wrote this post originally for the Philanthropy News Digest blog PhilanTopic.)

Back in May, the White House issued an executive order and accompanying memorandum which stated that "the default state of new and modernized government information resources shall be open and machine readable." For the nonprofit community, the announcement was intriguing. What would it mean if all that data on foundations and their grants were liberated from hundreds of thousands of IRS Form 990s and, for the first time, made truly open, searchable, and readable by machines?

While it looks like we'll have to wait to find out, here at the Foundation Center we've decided to take a step toward that goal with the release of Foundation Directory Online (FDO) Free, a new search tool that provides free, public access to essential information about nearly 90,000 foundations and more than 250,000 of their 990-PF tax returns. Yes, there are plenty of excellent tools around for retrieving the 990s of grantmaking foundations, including our own 990 Finder. What has been missing, however, is the ability to unlock the rich information available within those forms by searching across them with keywords relevant to your nonprofit's mission and programs. Until now, that was only possible through the Center's premier subscription product, Foundation Directory Online Professional. The launch of FDOFree changes that.

Indeed, FDO Free represents a significant step forward in the Foundation Center's efforts to make more funding data available to a larger portion of the grantseeking public. In addition to the ability to keyword-search across foundation 990-PFs, FDO Free allows you to search the profiles of nearly 90,000 private foundations by name, EIN, or location and to search their last three 990-PFs by name, EIN, location, or keyword.

Someday, the IRS will make all 990s open and machine readable. Butas Foundation Center president Brad Smith likes to say, "Someday isn't soon enough for the millions of nonprofit organizations that are working to address the world's most pressing problems. FDO Freemakes it possible to search the raw data on the IRS forms today, alongside additional information that has been cleaned and organized by the Center's professional staff."

What information will you search for? Funding for dance in 2012 (276 results)? Support to help protect the few remaining tigers in the wild (27 results)? School lunches in California (81 results)? With FDO Free, the basic information you need to get started is at your fingertips.Start searching today.

Where We're Headed

We're all eager to see what the future has in store for the nonprofit sector. In the meantime, we're working to make sure Foundation Directory Online continues to be the essential resource for grantseekers it has been since 1999. The design of FDO Free -- with its fresh new look, enhanced search engine technology, and improved responsiveness on mobile devices -- is a preview of what you can expect from all our FDO subscription plans in the not-too-distant future. And, of course, you can still turn to Foundation Directory Online Professional in order to get deeper access to detailed grants information, mapping tools, social media data, and all the rest of the knowledge you need to secure funding and advance your mission.

The future for foundation fundraising looks bright. We hope you agree. As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions!

September 16, 2013

Introducing FDO Free

We are pleased to announce the first in a series of improvements to Foundation Directory Online, beginning with the design of the log-in page. We especially want to call your attention to the location of the log-in area, which has moved to the top right-hand corner of the log-in screen, as shown above.

We're also pleased to announce the addition of Foundation Directory Online Free to the FDO suite of fundraising products. Replacing our former Foundation Finder tool, FDO Free is a new, improved way to quickly look up basic information about foundations by name, EIN, or location. And, with FDO Free, users get a glimpse into the wealth of additional information available through Foundation Directory Online that thousands of subscribers like you rely on as their essential fundraising tool. Rest assured, this change does not affect your subscription to FDO. But, for any of your friends or colleagues interested in learning more aboutFoundation Directory Online, FDO Free is a great place to start.

In the months ahead we will be making additional improvements to FDO based on feedback from users like you. Our goal is to provide the most accurate, comprehensive fundraising information available from the source you can trust: the Foundation Center. So stay tuned for more, and please don't hesitate to share with us your comments and suggestions on how we can make Foundation Directory Online even better.

November 28, 2012


PubHub is now IssueLab in Foundation Directory Online Professional Power Search results and on the Publications tab on grantmaker profiles. 

Earlier this year, the Foundation Center merged the PubHub database of foundation-sponsored research reports with IssueLab, a Chicago-based online publishing forum containing an extensive and diverse body of research produced by the philanthropic sector. What that means for FDO is that now when you run a Power Search, the publication results that come back are now pulled from a much larger pool of reports, produced by a larger segment of the sector than before. 

Learn more about IssueLab and explore the new platform. You don't have to change anything about how you use FDO Professional; just use Power Search as you always have, or click the Publications tab on a foundation profile. For non-Professional-level subscribers, you can get access to these features by upgrading your subscription.

October 15, 2012

Grant Milestone

Quick update: Foundation Directory Online just passed a milestone we're pretty proud of. There are now over 3 million grants in the Search Grants database!

The full set is available for searching in FDO Platinum and Professional. Plus includes the grants from the top 10,000 foundations (determined by total giving); Premium has the grants from the top 20,000. Our indexed grants are generally of $10,000 or above, although we do have a growing number grants of $1,000 or above from the largest foundations as well. Because several hundred foundations participate in our eGrant Reporters program sending records of their grants to us directly, we're able to publish those foundations' grants even before they're available in their 900-PFs. For example, a quick search in FDO Professional just now returned over 13,000 grants from 2012 (year authorized) and another 157,000 from 2011. 

We're always working hard to add more and more grants to the database while at the same time maintaining high standards for the accuracy and quality of our data. We hope this pays off for you in your search for funding.

June 05, 2012

New in FDO Professional: Corporate Social Responsibility Data

(This piece is reposted in full from PhilanTopic. Andrew Grabois is manager for corporate philanthropy at the Foundation Center.)

When Deep Throat advised Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward to "follow the money" in that underground garage back in the '70s, he could just as well have been dispensing advice to a corporate grantseeker. That is, until recently.

For many years, individuals and organizations looking for funding from companies or their foundations were only concerned about the availability of funds and meeting a company's grant requirements, not whether a grantmaker was a "good corporate citizen" (with the exception, perhaps, of anti-apartheid activists). And while notions of corporate social responsibility (CSR) have been around for decades, CSR only recently has gained traction with the general public.

According to a 2010 CSR Perception Survey conducted by Penn Schoen Berland, 55 percent of survey respondents said they would be more likely to purchase a product with an added social benefit; 70 percent said they would be willing to pay a premium for a product from a "socially responsible" company (and 28 percent said they would pay up to $10 more); and, perhaps most surprisingly, 34 percent said they would be willing to take a pay cut to work at a socially responsible firm. It would appear the CSR train is leaving the station. Indeed, in the last month alone, Morgan Stanley announced the launch of a new "impact investing" platform to "help clients align their financial goals and personal values," while Bloomberg LP, which already provides more than one hundred CSR indicators through its Bloomberg terminals at no extra cost, announced that it will publish the results ofThe Civic 100 survey conducted by the National Conference on Citizenship and Points of Light in the November issue of Bloomberg Businessweek.

Recognizing the importance of corporate social responsibility information to today's grantseekers, the Foundation Center has been busy collecting over forty separate CSR data points, including carbon emissions and energy usage metrics as reported to and analyzed by folks at the Carbon Disclosure Project, employee volunteer hours, workforce diversity percentages, and recognition by eleven "green" or "best practices" lists, including those compiled by Boston College,Corporate Responsibility magazine, DiversityIncHuman Rights CampaignNewsweek, and Working Mother. We're also collecting corporate CSR pledges tracked by the Global Reporting Initiative, theUnited Nations Global Compact, and A Billion + Change. And, starting tomorrow, we'll be making all that data available in Foundation Directory Online. Appearing as a separate tab on individual company profiles, more than fourteen hundred companies will have at least one CSR measure that users of FDO can incorporate into their prospect research.

We think the addition of corporate social responsibility data to FDO is the most significant enhancement to our company information in years, and we know it will provide FDO users with the most complete profiles of corporate citizenship and transparency in any single database around. For today's corporate grantseeker, just following the money is no longer enough.

-- Andrew Grabois


January 25, 2012

More on the New Foundation Grants to Individuals Online

I wrote a guest post for Small Act's blog all about the new Foundation Grants to Individuals Online, which I discussed in my previous post here.

I encourage you to go read the post on their site, but here's an excerpt:

Foundation grants to individuals can be tough to come by. After all, foundation support overwhelmingly goes to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. However, support is available in the form of scholarships, fellowships, arts and research grants, support for attending conferences and seminars, and fiscal sponsorship, among others. With Foundation Grants to Individuals Online you can customize a search based on 15 different search fields including types of support, plus geographic criteria, fields of interest, and keywords.

How can this help you? By conducting a targeted search you’ll find detailed funder profiles including valuable information such as program areas, limitations, application information, financial data, links to social media, and more. What you learn about these funding prospects will help you throughout your proposal development process, from choosing your best matches, to making an initial approach, to the formal application or proposal, and beyond to maintaining a relationship with that funder after the grant.


October 20, 2011

From PhilanTopic - Introducing

The following is reposted from PhilanTopic, the Philanthropy News Digest blog.


Exciting news from the Foundation Center, which today launched

Designed with philanthropic donors in mind, gives funders — and others interested in WASH-related issues — a "one-stop shop" for the data and information they need to improve water access, sanitation, and hygiene around the world.

The site's central feature is an interactive mapping application that shows where foundation grants are going, to which organizations, and for what purpose. is the first and only site with this critical data. What's more, foundation funding flows are shown within the context of international aid funding and key development indicators, providing a robust picture of the WASH landscape in any given country or region. also provides free access to a broad set of knowledge resources, including:

The Inside View section of the site is the place to go for updates on new content and features, and/or to share newsworthy events in the WASH sector. Go to the home page and you can register to get Inside View posts delivered to your e-mailbox.

Take a few minutes to look around the site. Then tell your friends and colleagues.

And let us know what you think of and how we can make it as useful and user-friendly as possible.

October 13, 2011

Foundation Directory Mobile

App Store - Foundation Directory Mobile_1318527385836We recently reached an exciting milestone for the Foundation Directory Mobile app for iPhone: 1,000 downloads since its release!

We're excited about this not because we reached a nice round number, but because it means more and more of you think your access to Foundation Directory Online Professional is valuable enough to take it with you on the go, which tells us that you find FDO integral to your fundraising.

If you want to get the app for your iPhone (we're working on a version for Android to be released in the coming weeks) visit the FD Mobile home page and click through to the iTunes App Store. It's free to download, but you'll need your FDO Professional login to use it. You can also use it for free without a login at certain Foundation Center libraries and Cooperating Collections — just make sure your local collection has IP access to FDO and an open WiFi network.

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»

February 23, 2011

Transparency "Heat Map"

There's a cool new feature on to see which foundations are using different kinds of communication vehicles — everything from news feeds and social media channels to official documents like financial statements, annual reports, bylaws, and more.

The Transparency Heat Map arranges the foundations and communication types on a grid arranged by "heat," from the more frequently used channels to the less common. You can also sort by category to see the grid that way. 


GlasspocketsFoundation Directory Online also has tools to find foundations with "glass pockets." Look for the icon in a grantmaker profile and click on it to link to the foundation's "Who Has Glass Pockets" profile. There are currently 25 foundations with profiles (see the full list here), and that number is growing.

You can also connect with foundations' social and multimedia channels with the FDO Professional social media tab. Read live Twitter updates, see recent videos and blog posts, follow Facebook updates, and more.