Tips for Using Foundation Directory Online

Foundation Center

  1. ALWAYS keep track of the search terms you use. That way you'll know what you've tried and haven't tried. Sample forms are available for your use.
  2. Use the Index function, especially for the Fields of Interest or Subject boxes. Foundation Directory Online is very literal and will not accommodate misspellings or words close to its chosen terms.
  3. Another advantage to using an Index is that you may see terms you wouldn't have thought of using on your own. For example, people over 65 might be called the elderly, senior citizens, seniors, aged, retired, mature, or geriatric. Also, you can find Fields of Interest or Subject terms you may not have thought of using if you pay attention to the terms indexed at the bottom of grant descriptions in the Grants database.
  4. For every search, put National and Massachusetts in the Geographic Focus box. This will eliminate those foundations that will not give in our state.
  5. Keyword Search allows you to type in any word or phrase. It is especially useful in the Grants database because it may pick up on words in the grant description box that reflect the specific type of work you propose to do.
  6. "Unsolicited proposals not accepted" doesn't always mean go away. Sometimes what it means is the foundation wants a letter of inquiry first and then it may invite you to submit a full proposal. However, pay attention to the size of the foundation and the pattern of its grant-making. If it is small in assets, with no or few staff, and gives year after year to the same organizations, that's a pretty good indication not to bother with them.
  7. In the Grants database, look up the name of organizations doing work similar to yours and see from where they get their money!
  8. If the grantmaker profile indicates a website, you don't need to spend much time reviewing Foundation Directory Online's information; likely the website will have more current information.
  9. When viewing grantmaker profiles in the Grantmaker database, look first at the Limitations line to see if there is any reason that funder would not consider you. No point reading the whole profile, getting excited about the potential funder, and then having your hopes dashed by its restrictions.
  10. You can use a foundation's tax return, called a 990-PF, to find information that may not be available in the database, such as a list of grants made. Note sample 990-PF for guidance.