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Grants Classification

How the Foundation Center Indexes Grants

A Two-Tiered Indexing Structure
The Foundation Center's Grants Classification System (GCS) has a two-tiered indexing structure: the first tier comprises information that is always true to the recipient organization; the second tier comprises information that is true to a specific grant. In this two-tiered structure, the first tier of classification is the recipient record. The second tier is the grant record. For example, if Purdue University receives an award for economics research, the Center would first ensure that the university (the recipient organization) is correctly classified as a higher education institution, then check that the grant going to it was indexed within the social sciences, specifically economics.

Recipient Records/Grant Records
The two-tiered system (recipient record and grant record) is supported by a recipient authority file that enables indexers to link all grants awarded to the same organization to a single master record — the recipient authority record.

Illustration 1:
The Recipient/Grant Record Link

 
Master Recipient Record
 
|
__________________|__________________
|          |            |           |
 |          |            |           |
Grant #1
 
Grant #2
 
Grant #3
 
Grant #4


This file saves countless hours when researching organizations' proper names, purposes, and locations, and it also eliminates costly repetitive keyboarding and proofreading of data. The Foundation Center's recipient authority file currently contains the following information on nonprofit organizations:

  • recipient name
  • recipient city .
  • recipient state, or country for international recipients. (For multi-location recipients or national recipients with many local chapters or clubs such as Girl Scouts, a different authority record exists for each unique location.)
  • type of recipient organization. (Already coded into the master recipient authority record, using the list of NTEE institutional codes. This field allows for two entries, separated by a slash. For example, E03/E91.)

    NOTE: For most organizations, the type of recipient field will contain only one three-digit code — e.g., a university is B43, a boys club is O21, etc. Occasionally, a recipient organization is double-coded, with the primary code in the first position. For example, a professional society in the health field that focuses on the field of nursing would be coded E03/E90. Another example would be an organization that functions in two different fields: a residence for mentally disabled children that is also a school for both residents and nonresidents (P70/B28); or a center for community development and housing (S20/L20).
  • recipient auspices/affiliation — governmental, religious, or private nonsectarian. A single-letter code is used.
  • primary population group or groups the recipient organization serves, when such information exists. (Up to five population group codes are allowed. Population-specific recipient bodies such as Boys Clubs, Girl Scouts, or a women's center will have only a single population group code. Others, such as a substance abuse program in a disadvantaged minority neighborhood, may need several population group codes.)

In many cases — for example, whenever an award is strictly for general, endowment, capital, continuing, or matching support, or if the purpose of the grant is not designated or is unknown — it is assumed that the grant supports the base activities of the recipient organization. In these cases the recipient authority classification stands in for the field of activity of the specific grant (see Illustration 2, below). However, grant descriptions are often more specific than a simple statement of type of funding support. In these cases, indexers always classify to the specifics of the stated grant text.

Illustration 2:
Example of Simple Recipient/Grant Record

Recipient Record

Recipient Name:

Girl Scouts of the U.S.A.

Recipient City:

NYC

Recipient State:

NY

Type of Recipient:

O42 (Girl scouts)

Recipient Auspices:

N (private nonsectarian)

Population Served:

F2 (girls and young women)

Grant Record

Recipient Unit/Dept.:

(none)

Dollar Amount of Award:

$15,000

Duration of Funding:

3 (3-year award)

Authorization Date:

2002

Source of Grants Data:

2002 AR (annual report)

Descriptive Text:

For continued general support

Field of activity:

(same as recipient type)

Population Group:

(same as recipient)

Type of Support:

10 (general support)

Matching/Challenge:

(none)

Continuing Support:

Y (continuing)

Foreign Country/Region:

(none)

For example, a local community center receiving a general support grant would be assigned no field of activity code, for the grant supports precisely the activities noted in the recipient type field (in this case P28, neighborhood center). However, if the grant text reveals a specific purpose, such as a family planning education program, then the field of activity is indexed to the specific, in this case E42 (family planning). Based on information supplied by the foundation, the indexer enters the following into the grant record:

  • the unit or department of the recipient organization (such as the library or English Department of a university, or the pediatrics division of a hospital)
  • dollar amount authorized or paid
  • duration of funding (if multi-year)
  • year grant was authorized (fiscal year)
  • source document from which the grant information was drawn
  • description of the grant, as provided in the source document
  • subject focus of the grant (when different or more specific than the recipient type)
  • population group the grant intends to serve (when different or more specific than the population group(s) specified in the recipient record
  • type of support awarded (general, capital, etc.)
  • if the grant is a matching/challenge award
  • if the grant is made as continuing support on the part of the grantmaker
  • foreign country the grant's programs or activities will be in (use if the grant is to a domestic U.S. recipient for a foreign or international project, or if the grant is to a foreign recipient for a program in yet another country, such as a grant to the Swiss UNESCO office for a program in Uganda. Also use to note truly global projects and those aimed at the developing world).

Once again, for many grant records — particularly those with no descriptive text, or those whose text simply reads "For continuing, general, capital, matching, or endowment support" — the field of activity (subject focus of the grant) and population group served will be provided by the recipient authority file and will remain unchanged.

Indexers will occasionally need to reevaluate some of the codes assigned to recipient organizations to ensure that the information is correct. For instance, additional information may become available that allows more specific coding. In addition, new definitions and rules are added to the instructional materials as questions emerge about the correct classification of particular types of organizations and programs. The Center maintains an ongoing dialogue with grantmakers, grantseekers, and other organizations involved in tracking nonprofit activities about the correct classification of particular types of programs and activities.


A Quick Review of Indexing Procedures
The following will introduce briefly the dimensions of the Foundation Center's GCS. Two sample grants are included to present the Center's system. The first grant will be simple, with straightforward descriptive text, and the second will be more complex.


Ten Steps to Index a Grant
The two-tiered indexing structure can be broken down into ten logical steps when classifying a grant. In classifying a grant, you will be answering the following questions:

  • What is the recipient organization's institutional type?
  • Does the recipient organization normally serve a specific population group?
  • What is the auspices or affiliation of the recipient organization?
  • Does the grant support a unit or department of the recipient organization?
  • What is the subject focus as noted in the grant text?
  • Does the grant serve a specific population group?
  • What type of funding support is being provided?
  • Is the funding made as continuing support?
  • Is the funding made as matching or challenge support?
  • Does the grant support activities in a foreign country?

As noted earlier, information from each of the above categories is entered into a specific area, or field, in the Foundation Center's database. Each field is preceded by the specific two-letter delimiter, or field tag, unique to that category. For example, a recipient organization's name is entered in the RN field; its area of activity in the TR field; the population group served in the GP field; etc. Below is an illustration of a recipient record with an attached grant record.


Recipient Organization Classification

Step #1: Recipient type
What type of institution or agency is the recipient organization? Is it a museum? A school? A mayor's office? A university? An environmental organization? What does it do? What services does it normally provide? What activities is it normally involved in? Does it provide human services?

Use the Thesaurus to classify the organization type.
Recipient Record
  • Name
  • City
  • State
  • Type of org.
  • Auspices or affiliation
  • Population group(s)
  • Grant Record

  • Recipient unit (if any)
  • Amount
  • Duration of funding
  • Year authorized
  • Source of data
  • Text of grant
  • Focus area of grant
  • Population group
  • Type of support
  • Matching support
  • Continuing support
  • Country
  • Step #2: Beneficiary populations
    Does the recipient organization normally serve a specific population? If not (i.e., if the organization serves the general population, such as a community center), skip this step.

    If the recipient organization has a target population for its activities or services, classify it using the list of beneficiary/ population group codes. For example, an Hispanic jobs organization would be coded E3 (Hispanics); an adolescent substance abuse treatment agency would be classified A4 (youth/adolescents) and N3 (substance abusers).

    Step #3: Recipient auspices
    What is the recipient organization's auspices, governance, or affiliation? Again, select the appropriate code from the list of affiliation/auspice codes. For example, a state university would be coded S (state government auspices), while a university affiliated with the Catholic church would be classified C (Roman Catholic affiliation).


    Grant Classification

    Step #4: Recipient unit
    Is the grant to a department or unit within the main recipient organization? If so, this may be important information when classifying the grant subject area. For example, an award to a university for program support of its theater department will be classified under theater.

    No classification code is necessary at this point — just note the recipient's unit or department, if one exists. If none exists, skip this step.

    Step #5: Field of activity
    What is the grant's subject area? Does it simply support the fundamental activities of the recipient organization through a form of general, capital, or other support type? Or does it support a specific program or project of the recipient organization?

    If the first case is true, you have already indexed the grant and you may omit this step. For example, if the award is strictly general support for a community center, you have already indexed the grant when you classified the recipient organization. This rule remains true whenever the grant text is simply for general, capital, matching, challenge, endowment, or continuing support with no specific program or project mentioned.

    If the grant supports a specific project or program, you must index it appropriately in addition to classifying the recipient organization. For example, an award to a community center "For staff training for child care program serving disadvantaged families" must be indexed to child care. That is the subject area of the grant. If you noted that the award went to a department or unit of the recipient organization, you should review the grant's descriptive text to see whether it qualifies as the subject area of the grant. For example, a grant supporting Carnegie-Mellon University's Department of Computer Science "For conference and to publish proceedings" should be classified as an award for computer technology.

    Use the Thesaurus to classify the subject area of the grant.

    Step #6: Population groups/beneficiary populations
    What is the population group the grant serves? If the recipient organization serves the general population and the grant does as well, skip this step. If the recipient organization serves a specific population and nothing in the grant text changes that population, again skip this step. You have already indexed the grant's population when you classified the recipient organization's population group or beneficiary. For example, a funder makes an award to Spelman College to support an endowed scholarship fund. The recipient serves almost exclusively black women and should have been classified E2 (blacks) and F0 (women). The grant doesn't change either of these population classifications, and so you may skip this step.

    If the grant serves a specific population and the recipient organization does not, use the list of population group codes to classify the beneficiary. For example, the child care award noted above is to a community center that serves the general population and has no recipient population coding. However, the grant text noted, "...serving disadvantaged families." You should use both A1 and P0, the appropriate classification codes for infants/babies and the poor and economically disadvantaged.

    Similarly, if the grant serves a different or more specific population than that of the recipient organization, you should classify to the population group stated in the grant text. For example, Spelman College may receive an award "For conference on leadership efforts for Hispanic youth." This should be classified E3 (Hispanics) and A4 (youth).

    Step #7: Continuing support indicator
    Is the funding made as continuing support? This can be either continued general support for a recipient as a whole entity, or it can be continued support for a special program or for a research study.

    If the grant in question represents continuing support, you classify this by simply entering a Y in the appropriate field. If not, leave this blank and skip to the next step.

    Step #8: Matching support indicator
    Is the funding either challenge or matching support? This can be a matching or challenge grant for general support for a recipient as a whole entity, or it can be matching or challenge support for a special program.

    If the grant in question stipulates matching or challenge support, you classify this by simply entering a Y in the appropriate field. If not, skip to the next step.

    Step #9: Type of support
    Beyond continuing and matching/challenge support, what is the type of funding awarded? Is it for an endowment? Does it support a publication? If it is to a performing arts organization or the theater department of a university, is it for a production? If it is to a museum, library, or historical society, is it to mount an exhibition?

    Use the list of type of support codes to classify the award appropriately.

    Step #10: Country
    Does the grant involve an activity in a foreign country? If the award simply goes to a foreign recipient for an activity wholly within its national borders, skip this step. For example, an award to the Australian National University to construct a library will be tracked as a foreign award by the recipient organization's country location.

    However, if the grant is to a U.S. domestic recipient for activity in a foreign country, or to a foreign recipient organization for an activity in yet another foreign country or region, you must classify this international dimension. For example, an award to a U.S. university for research on the changing environment of Antarctica would be classified "Antarctica." Similarly, an award to the Swiss office of UNESCO for relief services in Ethiopia would be classified "Ethiopia."

    Indexing Two Sample Grants

    1. The San Francisco Foundation awards a $25,000 challenge grant to the symphony orchestra to initiate a program of music education for children in grades K-6.

      Indexing Step Classification

    step 1

    recipient's institutional type? Thesaurus reveals that symphony orchestras are coded A69

    step 2

    population group the recipient normally serves? none, serves the general public

    step 3

    auspices or affiliation of the recipient? turn to the list of auspice codes to find N (private nonsectarian auspices)

    step 4

    unit or department of the recipient? none

    step 5

    subject focus as noted in the grant text? Thesaurus reveals music education is coded A6E

    step 6

    population group the grant serves? grades K-6 - use list of population codes to find A3 (children only)

    step 7

    continuing support? no

    step 8

    matching or challenge support? yes

    step 9

    type of funding support provided? program initiation - use list of support types to find 46 (seed money)

    step 10

    activities in a foreign country? no


    2. A foundation reports a $20,000 officer's discretionary award to the University of Illinois. This grant goes to the university's Office of Social Science Research for continued support for a study on the politics of the Chicago City Council.

      Indexing Step Classification

    step 1

    recipient's institutional type? Thesaurus reveals that universities are coded B43

    step 2

    population group the recipient normally serves? none, serves general public

    step 3

    auspices or affiliation of the recipient? turn to the list of auspice codes to find S (state government auspices)

    step 4

    unit or department of the recipient? Office of Social Science Research

    step 5

    subject focus as noted in the grant text? the grant text notes political science is the specific subject focus.Thesaurus reveals political science is coded V24

    step 6

    population group the grant serves? none

    step 7

    continuing support? yes

    step 8

    matching or challenge support? no

    step 9

    type of funding support provided? turn to the list of support types to find 60 (research) and 83 (officer's discretionary awards)

    step 10

    activities in a foreign country? no


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    The Foundation Center Grants Classification System (GCS)
     
    Supplemental GCS Codes
     
    How the Foundation Center Indexes Grants
     
    NTEE Terms and Definitions
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