2016 Highlights

Growing quality and breadth of data

Foundation Center continues to be a leading driver in establishing data standards for philanthropy. Our ongoing work to continually improve reporting allows foundations to more efficiently and accurately transmit their grants electronically (eReporting). The “Get on the Map” campaign with the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers continues to be successful, helping push the number of foundations that report their grants data electronically to Foundation Center, from 1,203 in 2015 to 1,388 in 2016. Foundation Center staff have obtained and processed over 170,000 grants (totaling over $15 billion) from fiscal year 2015 from eReporting foundations. These are grants that are not yet available on public IRS 990 PF forms, but are now viewable on Foundation Center’s products and services, including FDO and Foundation Maps. There’s also no minimum dollar amount, so grants as small as $100 become just as much a part of a foundation’s story as a $1,000,000 grant.

Funders, become an eReporter Today

Foundation Directory Online (FDO) and FDO Quick Start

FDO provides subscribers with access to timely, comprehensive information on U.S. grantmakers and their grants, plus a growing number of foundations located outside of the U.S. During the grant period, FDO’s data set expanded to include 6.9 million grant records, profiles of 140,000 grantmakers, and the addition of U.S. federal grants. These grants also included, for the first time, small grants under $10,000 that will help smaller nonprofit organizations find funding for critical on-the-ground projects and programs. In 2016, we also added features to enhance the FDO user experience such as profile personalization, LinkedIn integration, and “pathways,” a tool to visualize networks of funders and recipients. The professional version of FDO is accessible to organizations and community stakeholders at no cost at our five regional learning centers and more than 400 FIN partners. For those who can’t visit one of our locations, FDO Quick Start allows access to essential information about 100,000 foundations and 250,000 IRS Forms 990-PF to everyone via computer, tablet or phone. In 2016, over 921,000 users took advantage of this free tool.

Start searching grants today

Foundation Maps

Foundation Maps is Foundation Center’s premier data visualization tool and the easiest way to see who is funding what and where around the world. The tool currently includes data on 6.3 million grants totaling $1.7 trillion in funding, made by over 73,000 funders to nearly 470,000 recipients. In 2016, we added U.S. federal grants data to give a more comprehensive funding picture and continued to add enhanced features to provide a more in-depth and customizable experience. Daniel Saronson, application developer, shares, “One beautiful feature we added is the distribution chart. It gives the user the ability to see breakdowns of funding by subject area, population served, and support strategy, and it is an invaluable tool for getting a quick cross-discipline picture of the overall funding landscape.”

The flexibility and precision to tailor research has paid off. Amanda Dillon, knowledge services manager, shares a favorite story: “A funder collaborative based in Indiana had a hunch that there was limited capacity building investment for their grantees. By submitting data collectively to Foundation Center and then visualizing it on Foundation Maps, they were able verify funding gaps in this area. As a result, they created a special fund for capacity building grants, showing how data can directly inform decisions.”

Foundation Maps is available for free use on-site at the Center’s five regional hubs or at any one of our more than 400 Funding Information Network partner locations, or by subscription anywhere you are.

Start a free trial of Foundation Maps

Explore Map: Women’s Funders Network

Explore Map: The New York Community Trust

Foundation Websites

Foundation Websites is our web design and support service for grantmaking organizations. With only a surprising 10 percent of foundations in the U.S. having websites, this service is one way that we work to increase foundation transparency. For foundations that are ready to go online to share aspects of what they do and how they do it, we professionally design and maintain customized websites free of charge or for a modest fee. Grantmakers who have worked with us on their websites report receiving better proposals and answering fewer requests by phone and mail, saving them both time and budget dollars. By the end of 2016, 220 foundations had taken advantage of this service. Daniel Matz taps both web design and customer service skills to meet the needs of foundation partners. “Every time we launch a new foundation website, we’re showcasing our client’s pride in their work, helping them be more transparent, more open. Knowing that we are helping foundations communicate their game-changing ideas is why I do what I do.”

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Funding Information Network (FIN)

Funding Information Network (FIN) sites offer our resources and services at no cost to end users in one easy-access place, with trained staff support on site. FINs are libraries, community foundations, and other community-based centers that also offer additional capacity-building support. In 2016, we had more than 450 FINs located across the U.S. and a global presence in ten other countries. During that period, we saw an increase in FIN-sponsored events, and more than one million searches of our databases were performed at these partner sites, a substantial increase over the previous year. 30% of FINs also conducted Foundation Center trainings elsewhere in their communities, recognizing the power of reaching new audiences in need of resources in places where they already are.

Embedded in the name is the word “network;” we believe that for our partners and their offerings to thrive, peer learning is key. As our manager of network engagement Kate Tkacik put it, “What makes our FINs great are their invested leaders. Most of them wear many hats, but they’re dedicated to building knowledge with people who want to do good in their communities, and with other site supervisors to save them from reinventing the wheel.” This is why we relaunched our “extranet” — our website with resources specifically for FIN site supervisors — and also started a Facebook group. Network Days — our annual convening specifically for this network of partners — was also a success, with 61% of our sites in attendance in-person or virtually. These points of connection are key to the United Way of Northern Utah’s story: In 2015, their annual self-assessment survey revealed that they were not meeting FIN standards, and so they set out to improve. Taylor Knuth joined their team as the community services coordinator in July. “I connected with other FINs in my state that were thriving and also the staff at Foundation Center to learn from them best practices, share training resources, and to collaborate on marketing and communications. Later that summer, I presented in front all of our community nonprofit and government organizations at staff meetings, special coalition meetings, and council meetings. By the end of the year, I had delivered 19 trainings, and we saw an increased number of visitors to our Grant Center, all of whom received individual and targeted training based on their need.”

Find a FIN near you

Become a FIN


With growing pressure on foundations to be more transparent about operations and how they fulfill their missions, Glasspockets is our home for the data, resources, examples, and action steps that guide them in doing so. In 2016, with support from the Barr Foundation, we evolved our formerly static, hard-to-read “Heat Map” of the least and most commonly shared transparency elements on foundation websites into. Transparency Trends, an interactive, custom transparency benchmarking tool. In addition to being far more user friendly, this has inspired Glasspockets profile completion and increased contribution of indicator data. In 2016, there were nearly 60,000 users of Glasspockets. Foundations report that Glasspockets has helped them to design transparency and accountability strategies which have resulted in transparency improvements within their institutions. Marc Moorghen, director of communications at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, shares, “Glasspockets is a great tool for improving philanthropy. Because the transparency assessments can be publicly shared and then compared, you can benchmark your openness against that of other foundation peers, which then motivates aspiration and understanding that we, as a philanthropic field, can and should do better.”

Glasspockets is keeping an Eye on the Giving Pledge, which 157 of the world’s wealthiest individuals and families have joined since 2010 by publicly declaring their intentions to commit the majority of their assets to philanthropic causes. We provide an in-depth picture of the participants, their publicly-known charitable activities, and the potential impact of this collective effort. We continue to update the information available and maintain detailed profiles on those who have signed the pledge. They range in age from 30 to 101 from across 20 countries with a combined net worth of more than $780 billion.

Explore Transparency Trends

Explore Eye on the Giving Pledge

Global partnerships

We place high value on developing substantive relationships with global, regional, and country-level organizations, partnering on a wide range of projects and collaborative initiatives around the world. Working with partners such as Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support (WINGS) and Donors and Foundations Networks of Europe (DAFNE), we facilitate the ability of such networks to share knowledge among the foundations and related organizations that make up their membership.

In 2016, we had significant international achievements that we expect will yield important new data and knowledge for philanthropy for years to come. We led important cross-national conversations regarding data standards in Europe (with DAFNE) and in Africa (with WINGS), and delivered on a partnership with AFE (Colombian Association of Family and Corporate Foundations) with a special focus on the sustainable development goals and peacebuilding. We developed a data strategy and capacity building workshop program that we have implemented in Kenya with the Kenya Philanthropy Forum and East African Association of Grantmakers (EAAG), to be followed by similar workshops in Uganda, Tanzania, and Ghana in 2017. Catherine Mwendwa, a program officer at EAAG, shares, “Our partnership with Foundation Center has been invaluable in providing technical and capacity support in pursuit of organized philanthropy data in East Africa, while making linkages to other data processes” Adds workshop participant Janet Mawiyoo, “I don’t think there can be a more opportune time to talk about data.”

We also contributed thought leadership pieces to several widely-read international publications on philanthropy (including Alliance and AsianNGO), developed or grew more than 100 partnerships with non-U.S. organizations, and enhanced several knowledge portals with substantial international content. “The relationships we’ve invested in are really paying off. The conversation in the field is shifting from philosophy to action, which gives us good momentum to build on,” reflects Lauren Bradford, director of global partnerships.

Learn more about global philanthropy


During the grant period, the Center released reports on topics relevant to funders, the media, researchers, and nonprofits including:

  • The Peace and Security Funding Index: An Analysis of Global Foundation Grantmaking highlights the diversity of the funders and strategies behind this often-overlooked, yet critical, work.
  • The 2016 edition of Advancing Human Rights: Update on Global Foundation Grantmaking provides a more comprehensive view of the human rights funding landscape than ever before.
  • U.S. Foundation Funding for Central America in Context, a new fact sheet released by Foundation Center and Seattle International Foundation.