How can we bring data and knowledge to your community?
The Reggie Wilson Resource Library is part of the strengthening nonprofits capacity building initiative of the San Antonio Area Foundation. The library is also a part of Foundation Center’s Funding Information Network (FIN), which includes more than 400 partners across the country and worldwide, bringing our databases and training resources to local communities at no cost. Open five days a week, the library is a home for learning and training for nonprofit professionals in the region. It offers free access to our subscription databases and hundreds of books on nonprofit topics that community members can check out. For newcomers or regular visitors, attending class or using resources, the library is a hub for conversation around nonprofit needs.
As one of more than 400 Funding Information Network (FIN) partners, the San Antonio Area Foundation is a perfect example of why this model — which brings our subscription tools and other resources to local communities at no cost to the end user — matters. Current FIN supervisor Jenna Gonzales, Program Associate and lead staff for the FIN program at the foundation, shares, “I really enjoy teaching our free monthly finding funders class because it allows me to keep my ear to the ground and understand the challenges that local nonprofits are facing. I get a sense of the kind of support they’re looking for — general operating support, capacity building, capital campaigns — and of the types of organizations that we’re helping.” By providing nonprofits with assistance and support through Foundation Center data and resources, the foundation is also able to learn more about what capacity challenges local nonprofits are facing. For example, when a local foundation shifted its priorities to supporting autism, its former grantees came to the library to discuss diversification of funding and to search for other local opportunities using Foundation Directory Online (FDO).
Listen to Kate Tkacik, our Director of Network Engagement, and Cynthia Nuara, our Funding Information Network Specialist, on some of the FINs they highlighted this year.
One of the growing strategies for our staff at Foundation Center is integrating FIN members into our peer learning community. Network Days, our annual conference that brings together FIN staff, both in-person and virtually, offers a mix of plenary sessions, workshops, and networking opportunities. Jenna attended this year’s gathering in Chicago and really appreciated learning best practices around knowledge sharing and actual implementation of offering classes and resources to the public. In fact, by using the implementation tips of another attendee, she opened her site’s first survey this year. “I came back from Network Days and drafted a survey based on those same questions, and we learned a lot. For example, people were successful in finding grants, largely in the $10-15k range, and the highest number was $50k. But, it was especially helpful to read how much our community values staff interaction because of the technical assistance and one-on-one help with questions.
Did you know: Foundation Center offers a platform specifically about the funding landscape of libraries! Check it out >
The Funding Information Network includes a wide array of organizations, spanning the United States and multiple countries worldwide. Cynthia Nuara, Funding Information Network specialist, “A large majority of our members are public and academic libraries, but we are slowly adding more community foundations, nonprofit resource centers, and even co-working spaces into the network. I like to highlight different models as ‘FIN of the Month’ in our newsletters to show that we’re a dynamic network. Nonprofit Village, our first co-working space, was a great feature. More recently, we recognized The Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership which served as an emergency volunteer center during the fires in northern California.” By showcasing how FINs are active hubs in local communities, we’re furthering our vision of meeting people where they are.
We had FINs in 9 countries at the end of 2017.
Thanks to an annual survey, we have learned that some of our most active partners are offering more than 12 trainings per year, with some hosting upwards of 50 or 60 trainings per year. Our highest performing partners are also connecting with one another and with our staff to continually improve their model of service. In 2018, we will introduce a new tiered program model that offers more appropriate support and peer connection to those FINs that are going deep on providing trainings.
Interested in becoming a FIN, or know a public-facing organization that should be? Read more >
As for Jenna at the San Antonio Area Foundation, she’s transitioning into a program associate role for annual responsive grants in arts and culture, medicine, and health care, but shares that leading the FIN has been invaluable.