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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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

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


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!

Nonpartisan, trusted information

During a year when many media outlets and information sources took political stances, we deepened our emphasis on providing trusted, nonpartisan information that is relevant and useful across the aisle. For example, through our Funding for U.S. Democracy website, we launched an infographic series that investigates the data to answer common questions. The first in the series, How Foundations Get Out the Vote, identifies 1,859 grants totaling $222.7 million in support of efforts related to voter education, registration, turnout, and access. Recognizing that demographic disparities exist for voter turnout, the infographic highlights the amount of funding for these efforts that focus on specific underrepresented population groups. Consistent with recent judicial focus on the 1965 Voting Rights Act, as well as state voter ID laws, a breakdown by strategy reveals that a substantial proportion (24%) of funding for voting supports litigation.

Another example: The data show that people of color in the U.S. are disproportionately stopped, frisked, arrested, and exposed to the use of force by police. Police departments and communities across the U.S. are struggling with these realities and with the divide in how Americans experience and relate to policing. When news headlines nationwide in June and July exploded with commentary about the intersection of race and policing, we responded with facts. In a collaborative staff effort, we pulled together an IssueLab special collection that includes research from nonprofits, foundations, and university-based research centers that have not only described and documented the issue, but that also provide much-needed recommendations for addressing this chronic challenge.

See more democracy-focused infographics

Explore the race and policing collection

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


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.

Researching critical funding issues

We created a new resource, the Peace and Security Funding Index, in partnership with the Peace and Security Funders Group in 2016. This is a first-of-its-kind research project that showcases the foundations and philanthropists dedicated to building a safer, more peaceful and prosperous global future. The Index strives to help funders, policymakers, and the general public better understand the peace and security funding landscape; it identifies who “peace and security” funders are, what issues they fund, where they focus, and how they make an impact.

The Center also built on its slate of research tools for the human rights field with the Advancing Human Rights initiative, including an interactive website, an annual key findings update, and data mapping tool, produced in partnership with the International Human Rights Funders Group (IHRFG). We incorporated data on international aid flows for human rights, sourced from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. In addition to analyzing human rights data from foundations by issue, population, and region, we added support strategy as a new data point for analysis. Similarly, in our third year of partnership with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, we made enhancements to the interactive mapping platform on Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy, including new features that visualize trends, identify funding gaps, and explore philanthropic networks and funding relationships. A process was also created to update the map with new disaster-related grants more frequently.

Anna Koob, knowledge services manager, says, “In human right and peace and security funding, there’s a lot of rhetorical support among funders for investment in social movements and support for local capacity-building, particularly in the context of international trends towards closing space for civil society. For me, it’s always so interesting to see where this commitment is (or is not) reflected in the grants data.”


Advancing Human Rights

The Peace and Security Funding Index

Disaster Philanthropy

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


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