20 Useful Knowledge Tools for Foundations and Nonprofits


Globe and keyboard (Elements of this image furnished by NASA)I continue to be impressed  by the terrific resources, tools and information developed and provided by the Foundation Center. They recently created a hit list of their “Foundation Center Top 20 List of Knowledge Tools” and I wanted to share it here in its entirety with you.

Free Online Databases

1.     Philanthropy News Digest (PND) is a daily online news service dedicated to philanthropy. You can perform keyword searches or browse by subject areas or population groups. By completing a free registration via “My PND,” you can set up targeted news alerts to be delivered to your email address. foundationcenter.org/pnd

  • Requests for Proposals (RFPs): PND publishes RFPs and notices of awards as a free service for grantmaking organizations and nonprofits. foundationcenter.org/pnd/rfp/
  • Jobs: PND’s job board provides listings of current full-time job openings at U.S.-based foundations and nonprofit organizations. Organizations may submit up to ten postings a month at no charge. You can sign up for email alerts by state and job type. foundationcenter.org/pnd/jobs/

2.     IssueLab gathers, indexes, and shares the collective intelligence of the social sector. It provides free access to over 13,600 case studies, evaluations, white papers, and issue briefs addressing the world’s most pressing problems; shares content with libraries, archives, and online communities; and builds custom Knowledge Centers, issuelab.org/content/ custom_knowledge_centers, for funders, networks, and nonprofit organizations. issuelab.org/

 3.     Tools and Resources for Assessing Social Impact (TRASI) is a searchable, expert-reviewed database of over 190 approaches to measuring the impact of social programs and investments. trasi.foundationcenter.org/

 4.     Social Media: Foundation Transparency 2.0 is a database tracking the use of and providing direct links to 18 different types of social media tools used by over 1,600 U.S. foundations. glasspockets.org/inside/

 5.     Eye on the Giving Pledge combines our data with public information to offer an in-depth picture of 114 Giving Pledge participants, their charitable activities, and the potential impact of this effort. http://glasspockets.org/givingpledge/

 6.     Fondos a la Vista is a searchable database of over 22,000 Mexican philanthropies launched in partnership with Alternativas y Capacidades and the Philanthropy and Civil Society Project at ITAM (Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México). fondosalavista.mx/

7.     Nonprofit Collaboration Database is a repository of 650 real-life examples of how nonprofits are working together. foundationcenter.org/gainknowledge/collaboration/

 Subscription Databases

8.     Foundation Directory Online (FDO) is the definitive database for fundraisers with information on more than 3.3 million grants and 100,000 U.S. grantmakers. But it’s also a largely untapped resource for funders. FDO Professional searches nine databases at once – grantmakers, companies, grants, 990s, RFPs, philanthropy news, foundation-sponsored publications, nonprofit literature, and jobs – to quickly compile a comprehensive scan of interest area. The new FDOFree makes 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. fconline.foundationcenter.org/tour.php

 9.     Philanthropy In/Sight is an interactive mapping tool that combines data on over 100,000 funders and over one million grants with Google maps. Updated weekly with data from around the world, Philanthropy In/Sight allows users to understand who is funding what and where. philanthropyinsight.org/

Custom Philanthropy In/Sight: Affinity groups including Animal Grantmakers and the International Human Rights Funders Group have worked with the Foundation Center to create custom, password-protected versions for their members. Funders for LGBTQ Issues has launched a custom Philanthropy In/Sight for members which is publicly accessible, lgbtfunders.org/insight/ The Skillman Foundation, a place-based funder, partnered with us on another custom project. Detroit residents can click on the maps to find information on and links to charities working in their neighborhood, and anyone can overlay this grant data with demographic, socio-economic and other data sets to create compelling visual portraits. skillman.org/Knowledge-Center/Grants-Map

 Research and Practice Tools

10.   Research: The Foundation Center has an active annual calendar of research on national trends in foundation giving. foundationcenter.org/nationaltrends Foundation Stats, recently launched, provides the most comprehensive resource available for quickly generating tables, charts, and a trend view on the size, scope, and giving priorities of the U.S. foundation community. Users can sort by grants or foundation and filter by organization type, location, and population group. data.foundationcenter.org

11.   Special Topics and Regional Research: In collaboration with foundations and philanthropy networks, the Foundation Center also produces targeted research on special topics and regional trends, typically in short, readable advisory formats with graphics. foundationcenter.org/specialtrends and foundationcenter.org/regionaltrends

12.   Custom Searches: The Foundation Center also provides custom searches of its research database to help funders prepare board reports, identify funding partners, research philanthropic assets and giving in their area, investigate new areas of funding activity, and identify potential grantees. foundationcenter.org/customsearches

 13.   GrantCraft:  A joint project of the Foundation Center and the European Foundation Centre, GrantCraft taps the “practical wisdom” of a diverse group of experienced funders primarily through the creation of materials—guides, blogs, surveys, translations, a map of the craft, and more—on grantmaking practice. grantcraft.org/

GrantCraft’s Interactive Tool Finder helps funders find the best collaborative technologies for their needs. The tool catalogs social networking sites, file sharing tools, project management dashboards, and crowdsourcing systems that make it easier to communicate and connect. collaboration.grantcraft.org/

Web Services

14.   Foundation Web Builder Free and Premium: Only 26 percent of U.S. foundations have web sites. The Foundation Center offers free web site design, hosting, content updates, and technical assistance to U.S. foundations. For a nominal annual fee, the Center also offers a premium service – a custom web site with a unique domain name, site usage reports, and functionality such as blog posts and social media links. foundationwebbuilder.org/

15.   Glasspockets encourages best practices and benchmarking in foundation transparency. The Foundation Center reviewed 600 foundation web sites and came up with 23 key elements of online transparency. Participating foundations have profiles on the site with links to these elements, providing insight and sample policies for other funders as well as grantees and the public. glasspockets.org/

16.   The Reporting Commitment aims to develop more timely, accurate, and precise reporting on the flow of philanthropic dollars. Participating foundations agree to make grant information available at least quarterly in a machine-readable, open format and coded to a common geographic standard. glasspockets.org/work/reportingcommitment/index.html

17.   Custom web portals serve as dashboards for donor learning and collaboration and typically include data visualization tools; targeted news feeds, research, and tweets; and special features. Start-up and maintenance costs for these portals are supported by foundations, with the results typically available to the field at no cost. Examples include:

18.   The Foundations for Education Excellence portal provides education funders with a timely common dashboard for U.S. public education reform efforts. It includes interactive maps of education grants, education philanthropy news, summaries of education reports, links to U.S. Department of Education resources, archived webinars, event listings, and education funder tweets. foundationcenter.org/educationexcellence/

19.   WASH Funders was commissioned to support a group of funders focused on global water access, sanitation, and hygiene issues and goes further as a custom portal with advanced data visualization tools, the addition of multi-lateral and bi-lateral aid, case studies, community tools, and recommended readings. washfunders.org

20.   BMA Funders supports those working to promote positive outcomes for black male achievement in the U.S. This portal includes a mapping tool, a timeline of philanthropic milestones, an outcomes toolkit, and a curated collection of research reports and case studies. bmafunders.org

One last note on where this started: data. By participating as eGrant Reporters, funders can help ensure that timely, accurate information is available on their foundation’s giving for the field and for their own use. In exchange, the Center provides free interactive maps back to eReporters with their grants. foundationcenter.org/grantmakers/e-grants

For more information about the Foundation Center and these resources contact: Lisa Philp, V.P. for Strategic Philanthropy, Foundation Center, llp@foundationcenter.org

Kris is a sought after philanthropy advisor, expert and award-winning author. She has helped over 90 foundations and philanthropists strategically allocate and assess over half a billion dollars in grants and gifts.

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