Using Foundation Center to Find Additional Sources of Funding
by Eric Kinaitis, Editor
In addition to utilizing their AEF Donor Advised Fund to support their favorite causes, it is not uncommon for AEF donors to sit on the boards of their favorite charitable causes.
Although persons who sit on boards may have various titles, it is commonly understood that raising money for their organization is often a fundamental duty of being a board member.
Susan Kay, a prior AEF guest columnist, shared some tips about how charity board members can do research in finding additional dollars for their organizations by using Foundation Center.
Foundation Center is an organization that connects “people who want to change their world to the resources they need to succeed.” They maintain a comprehensive database of funding sources.
Let’s look at an example: You are a board member of an organization that is focused on the advancement of education for underprivileged kids. Using the Foundation Center website, you can research and pursue corporate donors and family foundations who fund education for underprivileged kids.
Accessing this informational sheet will give you keystroke-by-keystroke guidance on how you can research likely potential foundations that would fund your charitable cause(s).
First step, visit www.foundationcenter.org . Hover on the menu at the top that states Find Funding, and you will see a sub-menu that appears. In that sub-menu select 990 Finder. The 990 is the tax form that foundations use to report their activities. In the Search Box, you can click on More Search Options to expand the available search fields.
Searching by zip code may be the easiest method. Click search and you will see every private family foundation or corporate giving foundation in that city.
Why is this meaningful? The list will be presented in alphabetical order and will show the total assets of each listed foundation. Click on the link for any foundation. For larger ones, the Charitable Donations/Grants page is often found approximately around page 30 of their 990. Here, you will see the lists of charities that this foundation gives to.
Let’s go back to our example; you are researching local foundations that support causes that aid underprivileged kids to help your charity.
If you visit a link to a foundation 990 form, you might see that the foundation gives money to organizations for environmental causes. This foundation is not a good target to approach for funding for underprivileged kids. Move on to another foundation.
You visit the link to another 990 form. That foundation supports causes like the local Boys & Girls Club, Big Brothers-Big Sisters and similar organizations. This is a good sign that this foundation would support your charity for underprivileged kids.
Scroll further through that 990 and you will come across a list of the board members who serve, often including their addresses. In the 990, you will also find the name and address of the accountant that serves the foundation. Now you know the people to approach to ask about how to fill out a request for a grant, and learn the steps to position your charity as a deserving funding recipient.
Hopefully, by doing some of this research as a board member, you might find new funding sources for your organization.