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.

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Explore Map: Women’s Funders Network

Explore Map: The New York Community Trust


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


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

Philanthropy News Digest (PND)

PND, a daily news service of Foundation Center, is a compendium of philanthropy-related articles and features culled from print and electronic media outlets nationwide as well as requests for proposal (RFP) announcements from foundations and job listings. More than one million people relied on PND as a source of information about the social sector in 2016. Over 135,000 PND subscribers receive its nightly email alert on news, RFPs, and jobs. PhilanTopic, the PND blog, provides opinions and commentary on the changing world of philanthropy and published 215 posts in 2016.

For editor Mitchell Nauffts, highlights of 2016 coverage included interviews with Zoë Baird, CEO and president of the Markle Foundation; Steve Case, chairman of the Case Foundation; Reid Detchon, vice president for energy and climate strategy at the UN Foundation; Harvey V. Fineberg, president of Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation; Kim Laughton, president of Schwab Charitable; Katherine Lorenz, president of the Cynthia and George Mitchell; Foundation; and Pamela Shifman, executive director of the NoVo Foundation; and original commentary by Jennifer Buffett (NoVo Foundation), Trista Harris (Minnesota Council on Foundations), Cynthia Nimmo (Women’s Funding Network), Edgar Villanueva (Native Americans in Philanthropy), Ridgway H. White (Charles Stewart Mott Foundation), and Foundation Center president Brad Smith.

Read More Philanthropy News Digest

SDG Indicator Wizard

SDGfunders.org, a collaborative platform that explores philanthropy’s role in the sustainable development goals, was expanded to include a new tool, the SDG Indicator Wizard. By using the free tool, organizations can determine which sustainable development goals and targets relate to their work, and which indicators they can track in conjunction with their own indicators to measure impact. Foundations looking to better align their support with the SDGs and nonprofit organizations seeking funding and partners can all find ways to use this shared global framework to advance their work.The tool is built on Foundation Center’s auto-coding technology.


How does your organization line up?

The new foundationcenter.org

Our newly redesigned main website gives people worldwide faster and greater access to the most comprehensive information about philanthropy available. Powered by advanced search technology combined with machine learning software, the new foundationcenter.org mines multiple databases and web properties such as Philanthropy News Digest, IssueLab, and GrantSpace to retrieve the most relevant and up-to-date results — a new entry point to our vast stores of knowledge from and about the global social sector.

“Because Foundation Center has significantly expanded its digital offerings in recent years, people might not be aware of the breadth and depth of resources available. We wanted to help them navigate quickly to the specific data, knowledge, or product they’re looking for,” said Renée Westmoreland, director of web design and development at Foundation Center. “We spoke with site visitors and studied their usage patterns in order to create a new site experience based on their needs.” In direct response to user needs, the website provides one-click access to common search queries like, “I want to start a nonprofit” and “I want to find information about funding trends.” The search engine also now interprets the user’s query and reveals additional, relevant content that can be filtered by high-level categories or refined by subject, population group, source, or geography.

Start Exploring foundationcenter.org