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.

Read More

CF (Community Foundation) Insights

CF Insights is the leader in data collection and research for the community foundation field in the United States with a reputation for benchmarking and analysis of trends. In its second year at Foundation Center, CF Insights continued to deliver a high level of service to its members, initiated several new partnerships and consulting engagements, and undertook original research on community leadership by community foundations and on the role of infrastructure organizations in supporting the field. Together, CF Insights members serve half of the U.S. population and represent two-thirds of total community foundation assets. Through CF Insights, community foundations have the ability to improve performance and sustainability—individually and collectively.

“It has been such an exciting year for CF Insights. Listening to conversations across the country has been a rewarding experience, and we’re converting it into action through brand new, relevant research that reflects a fast-evolving field,” shares David Rosado, CF Insights’ member services manager.

Visit CF Insights

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.”

Learn More

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


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!

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