Q&A with the Foundation Center

Foundation Center LibraryWe are very lucky to have a Foundation Center office located here in Atlanta. The Foundation Center is the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. They have many resources to offer organizations and individuals who are seeking grants.

A couple of weeks ago, the Foundation Center hosted the C4 Atlanta Website Bootcamp for Artists. We took some time out during the Bootcamp to have Stephen Sherman, one of the Foundation Center’s staff members, talk about what they have to offer. What follows is a rough transcript of his talk.

What is the Foundation Center?

We are a national, non-profit organization, based in New York. We have offices in five different cities, including New York, D.C., San Francisco, Cleveland, and here in Atlanta. We’ve been here since 1994, so that’s over 16 years. We offer a wide range of resources to connect you with the philanthropic resources you need to succeed.

What sorts of resources does the Foundation Center offer to arts organizations?

For arts nonprofits, we have a database, the Foundation Directory Online, which you can use to research funding opportunities. That includes grants from private, institutional funders, which includes foundations, corporations, and granting public charities.

Does the Foundation Center have resources for individual artists as well?

Yes. For individuals, we have a separate database: Foundation Grants to Individuals Online. This database is for anyone who is not affiliated with an organization. The listings include awards, scholarships, prizes, and other opportunities for funding for individual artists.

How can an artist or arts organization access this information?

Both of these databases are available through a subscription where you can access the databases from offsite, whether from your office or home. But if you come here to the Foundation Center you can use it for free. We have our four computers, and we have a wi-fi, so you can bring your own laptop down and use the databases that way, too.

Foundation Center Classroom

Do you have classes to help me do a better job of finding and applying for grants?

We also have classes available. These are regular, free classes we offer to grant seekers, both for nonprofits and individuals. For organizations, we offer a grant basics class, usually on the first Tuesday of the month, in the evening. We also offer a class that talks about how to use our database. For individuals, we don’t do these classes quite as often, but we do offer a grant seeking basics for individuals in the arts class. There’s another class called Getting Started with Foundation Grants for Individuals online. It talks about how to use that database. Both of those classes are free.

Where can I go to find out more about those classes?

If you go to grantspace.org, you can find a full schedule of classes there. Usually we have special speakers come in as well. We have classes on individual fundraising, we have some foundation staff coming in to talk occasionally, we have classes on corporate fundraising. So keep an eye on the calendar and sign up for our newsletter. That way you will get alerts on when we have new classes coming up.

When I walk into the Foundation Center office, the first thing I always notice is a lot of books.

So you noticed our library, which you can browse, if you like. We have a wide collection of books, both for individuals and for nonprofits. Most of them are geared toward nonprofits. But there are some in the “200s” — that’s where the arts books would be. There’s an artist’s guide to grantwriting for individual artists, Shaking the Money Tree is for film makers, the Guide to Getting Arts Grants — we have a couple of those here.

What other topics are covered in the library?

There are a lot of books here on fundraising — grassroots as well as organizational fundraising. We have some directories of grants. If you’re working with an organization, there are a lot of management books out here to help you with those basic business aspects.

Can these books be checked out?

Yes. You’ll notice that some books have little orange stickers — those are books you can check out. We have a lending program where you can borrow up to two books at a time for two weeks. If you haven’t done that before, you’ll just fill out the registration form at the reference desk. To borrow, just show us your ID and a debit or credit card. We keep the payment information just to make sure you get the book back to us. Otherwise, we don’t charge anything for it.

What other programs do you offer specifically for the arts?

We also dedicate the month of October as Funding for Arts Month. We do a bunch of special classes during that month just for artists and arts organizations, so keep an eye out for that. We’ll send out a special email to announce that. We have a whole resource market, we usually have over at the Rialto, where we’ll have a bunch of organizations like C4 Atlanta that work with artists or arts organizations to talk about their services and a number of free events with different speakers.

Foundation Center Library

What are your hours?

We are open to the public. Our hours are 10:00 – 5:00, Tuesday through Friday. We also have a couple of evenings — the first Tuesday and the last Thursday — when we’re open until 8:00.

What if I don’t live close to a Foundation Center office?

We also have cooperating collections, which are other places you can go. These include public libraries, academic libraries, and nonprofit centers that have similar access to our databases and usually a set of our books you can use. Some of the locations in Georgia include Gainesville, Macon, Kingsland (near Savannah), and a new one is coming soon in Athens.

In addition to the resources Stephen mentioned, I also highly recommend keeping up with their Twitter Feed, Facebook Page, and LinkedIn Group.

I’m also going to take this opportunity to put in a plug for the Foundation Center’s Nonprofit Collaboration Database. The Foundation Center has gathered an incredible wealth of information on collaborations and strategic alliances. It’s a great muse to help you find new ways to achieve your mission.

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