2016 Highlights

Access to nonprofit resources and training

In 2016, more than 21,000 people visited our regional libraries/learning centers in New York City, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Cleveland, and San Francisco to attend free in-person trainings and special programs on fundraising and nonprofit management, and to use our subscription-based resources at no charge, guided by expert librarians and resource specialists. One of the most exciting developments that launched early in the year is Bridge, our new online learning platform which ensures that our capacity building resources are available to anyone, anywhere. Through Bridge, we offered new and improved trainings in three core competencies: Fundraising, Organizational Sustainability, and Leadership and Management. These trainings range from Introduction to Proposal Writing to more advanced skill-building courses such as Your Board and Fundraising. Through this platform, we offered 30 live training webinars at no cost to 6,000 registrants online and engaged another 3,200 people through free online courses that supplement our on-the-ground trainings and resources.

Our trainings remain an important hallmark of growing skills in the nonprofit sector. One course attendee wrote: “Foundation Center’s budgeting workshop basically saved my bacon in writing up a budget. The Center helped me understand what foundations are looking for. I am amazed at what a fine service you provide grantseekers and hope that grantmakers see this as well.” Wrote another: “The information received from Foundation Center has guided me every step of the way with the concept, the fundraising plan, marketing, and beyond. I would not have been able to do it without the guidance of workshops, sample checklists, and evaluation models.”

To top it off, we try to provide nimble, accessible assistance when people need it. Our Online Librarian service responded to nearly 9,000 live chats and email inquiries in 2016, making it easy for people who were unable to access our physical locations to engage with our team of experts.

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GrantCraft harnesses the practical wisdom of funders worldwide to provide free resources that improve the practice of philanthropy. In the last year, GrantCraft successfully increased its audience, attracting more than 63,000 social sector stakeholders from countries across the globe spanning the foundation, nonprofit, academic, media, government, and business sectors. We also increased the breadth and depth of its content including 46 guest blog posts and 17 case studies that address key questions funders face across various strategies, issues, and geographies. Publications included: Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2017 and Innovations in Open Grantmaking, which seeks to provide inspiration and early proof of concept regarding innovative government grantmaking practices. “Philanthropic learning isn’t about arming yourself with a set of best practices. It’s about building understanding through a variety of experiences and perspectives, and then translating that knowledge into sound judgement. Through GrantCraft, we lift up voices and topics that funders might not otherwise pause to reflect on,” shares Jen Bokoff, who oversees GrantCraft and other projects on our knowledge services team.

GrantCraft staff presented sessions at national conferences including those hosted by Exponent Philanthropy, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, and Grants Managers Network, in addition to facilitating workshops and events at the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, and the New York Funders Alliance. Topics covered at these events ranged from understanding youth philanthropy to how to scan the landscape of a field to using human-centered design to improve work in the sector.

Explore GrantCraft


GrantSpace, Foundation Center’s award-winning website used by nearly 2.4 million people last year, offers critical capacity building resources at no cost—saving community organizations time and money so that more of their budget resources are allocated to serving constituents and less on travel and training cost. In 2016, we saw a significant increase in subscribers to the monthly “New at GrantSpace” e-newsletter from 26,000 to nearly 30,000. Continued growth is attributed to our new content, like the 68 blog posts that engaged readers with current issues that are most relevant to their work. One post offering advice on how to win grants got our GrantSpace specialist Sandy Pon’s attention. “It affirmed that the roots of grantseeking are still very much about building human relationships. This post’s popularity was a great reminder about reinforcing fundamentals, and that what seems like old news to some of us is still very new for rookies in the field.”

We continued to provide access to broad audiences that are often underserved; our Grantspace content includes Spanish knowledge-based articles, webinars, tutorials, and other materials, which were viewed more than 230,000 times in 2016. Our key training resources continued to be available for download in both English and Spanish, and we continue to serve people with visual impairments. Explore GrantSpace’s many resources:

Explore GrantSpace


IssueLab represents one of the largest platforms of social sector knowledge, spanning almost 40 issue areas and containing more than 20,000 publicly available resources (produced by more than 6,000 organizations), such as white papers, case studies, evaluations, and issue briefs. In 2016, we launched the new and improved IssueLab website and sharing platform at an event attended by dozens of philanthropy knowledge management leaders. New features include user libraries to save relevant content; “what to read next” suggestions; an improved, filtered search; and a growing number of custom knowledge centers for funders and practitioners. The redesign aimed to make IssueLab more user friendly and easier to administer. Lisa Brooks, the director of knowledge management systems, was thrilled with the changes. “Our new administrator tools accommodate a team-oriented approach and make working with content on the back-end easier and much more efficient. Less troubleshooting for me means more time to focus on building social sector knowledge!” IssueLab added more than 2,600 new titles to its collection during the year.

IssueLab is increasingly involved in curating and sharing special collections of knowledge to help inform both funders and practitioners. Special collections on topics as varied as risk and philanthropy, funding intermediaries, and disconnected youth were launched this year, alongside continued enhancements to existing collections that are integrated into other web portals, such as YouthGiving.org and EqualFooting.org.

Browse published knowledge and contribute your own:


Librarians as a grounding force

Free and open access to accurate foundation data is our DNA, but Foundation Center’s story is always about how the public works with data to move forward. With an increase in information available over the years, our librarians play an active role in connecting people with the resources they need to be more strategic. Susan Shiroma, senior librarian, has been coaching our New York office’s library visitors and educational program participants to win grants since 1995. In Susan’s first decade in philanthropy, she managed fee-based information services and DIALOG computer files, and is credited with the national expansion of Foundation Center’s proposal writing seminars.

As Foundation Directory Online subscriptions and the now-Funding Information Network revenue increased, revenue from custom searches and special projects also grew. Training revenue success led to the creation of an educational services department. Education evolved into nonprofit services, outreach and learning activities, and a social sector outreach department. “So,” Susan shares, “we librarians evolved too into trainers, capacity-builders, and engagement specialists.” Librarians like Susan provide critical insights to a range of people in the nonprofit sector in our regional hubs and online through our chat service. “Despite the exciting changes happening around us as Foundation Center adapts to new technologies and opportunities, the constant is the direct service focus of our work: the free trainings and conversations that take place in our regional centers, online places, and in our funding information network partners. Each day is a new opportunity to engage more people trying to change the world, and that’s why I’m still here!”

Come meet Susan!