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The Foundation Center's Guide to Grantseeking on the Web

Below are excerpts from four chapters of The Foundation Center's Guide to Grantseeking on the Web, 2003 Edition.

What follows are abridged versions of chapters 2, 4, 6, and 10. For a full listing of chapters in the print edition, see Contents.



Grants Information on Independent Foundation Web Sites
The Application Process Online
Portals, Content Aggregators, and Information-Rich Sites
Online Resource Information Centers
Conducting Online Funding Research Using the Foundation Center's Web Site
Foundations on the Web: Levels of Engagement

In 1999, 70 percent of the 100 largest foundations and roughly 400 of the more than 50,000 independent foundations in the United States had a Web site or “presence”—and only a handful of these foundations accepted proposals or applications online. At the beginning of the year 2003, approximately 81 percent of the 100 largest foundations and more than 1,600 of the more than 59,000 independent foundations had Web sites.

The stream of electronic communication, via e-mail, has also become a very important tool for both foundations and grantseekers. E-mail has made it easy for people in different locations to come together in ways that were not thought possible only a short time ago. More than 2,100 foundations have e-mail addresses through which general questions and application inquiries can be submitted. In many instances, the e-mail address belongs to a grant administrator or an information specialist.

Even with the technological strides made by private foundations in the last few years, the philanthropic field still lags behind the private sector. This is especially evident among newly established independent foundations. The majority of foundations have yet to take full advantage of the possibilities that the Web has to offer in terms of exposure, marketing, and public relations. In the past two years, more than 8,100 independent foundations have been established, the majority with no Web presence. Factors such as inadequate funds or lack of resources may account for the fact that many newly established foundations have yet to take full advantage of the Internet. Yet, newly established independent foundations are probably among the best candidates to call upon the Web as an effective instrument for communication and exposure of their grant initiatives.

Many of those foundations that have taken advantage of the Internet are starting to utilize their Web sites in constructive, truly communicative ways. A number of foundations now post their quarterly and annual reports, newsletters, guidelines, grants listings, and even interactive application forms online. In this chapter, we’ll look at independent foundations that are using their Web sites in unique ways to delineate their mission and services more effectively to grantseekers. Our review isn’t meant to be comprehensive, nor is it intended as the final word on the subject. Our intent is to inform rather than critique, while at the same time highlighting practices and trends that seem to hold promise for foundations, the nonprofit sector, society in general, and grantseekers in particular.

Grants Information on Foundation Web Sites

In the past few years there has been an increase in the number of independent foundations that list some or all of their recent grants on their Web sites. Some sites offer grants information in the form of browsable listings. Several foundations offer grants information through searchable databases accessible directly from their sites, while others provide both.

One example of searchable grants databases can be found on the Web site of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation ( One of the main functions of the Kellogg Foundation’s Web site is to “provide Web access to an extensive database of information related to the grants we fund.” In support of this end, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation has created a searchable grants “Knowledgebase” organized around four different search approaches. By selecting Search Grants Files, you are taken to an online form where you can enter your search terms. You may also choose to browse the database by programming category, geographically (United States, Latin America and the Carribean, and Southern Africa), or alphabetically by recipient name. Selecting programming category allows you to browse through grants that share the same “coding” within the Kellogg Foundation’s system. Selecting by geographic region lets you browse according to grantee location. An advanced search option is also available, allowing you to search the text of the grant record by status (active or closed), Kellogg Foundation contact person, award start and end date, and by range of the grant amount. Listed grants date back to 1991.

When you come across foundation Web sites in the course of your funding research, check to see whether there is a browsable or searchable grants database, an online annual report with grants information, or a Form 990-PF. Information from these sources can help you quickly determine whether your organization’s needs match the giving patterns of the foundation you are interested in approaching.

The Application Process Online

In addition to grants listings, foundations today are beginning to call upon the capabilities of their Web sites to facilitate the application process. Some foundation Web sites offer downloadable application forms, which can be printed out, filled in, and then mailed, faxed, or sent to the foundation via e-mail. Others have an interactive Web form that can be filled out online and submitted directly from the site. Still others have an interactive eligibility quiz that asks a series of questions to determine eligibility based on program and geographic areas before revealing the application information. Most foundation Web sites that have application materials online also make a great deal of other information available regarding their past giving, program areas, and limitations to their grant programs. This helps to provide grantseekers with a clearer view of who is eligible for funding and who should proceed by submitting an application. In most cases, the online application form serves more as a letter of inquiry than it does as a full proposal. But it helps the grantmaker quickly determine whether you have done your homework and checked the guidelines and eligibility criteria made available on its site before submitting a full proposal. The following is a sampling of foundation Web sites that illustrate the variations you may encounter regarding the application process.

When GTE and Bell Atlantic merged to become Verizon, a new foundation was launched to serve the nonprofit community—the Verizon Foundation ( The Verizon Foundation was the first foundation to accept proposals and application forms online. Upon entering the foundation’s Web site, you are given the option of viewing the foundation’s grantmaking areas and public information in either English or Spanish, demonstrating the foundation’s awareness of the diverse communities it serves. The Web site also offers a Nonprofit Search tool that allows grantseekers to check to be sure that their organizations are eligible 501(c)(3) entities.

Verizon’s full application is available as a Web form in the Partnership Opportunities area and can be completed in approximately 45 minutes, according to the instructions. Look carefully at the grants guidelines, which provide information on eligibility criteria, how and when to apply, and a helpful hints and suggestions list. Before submitting the application form, you should take Verizon’s interactive eligibility quiz. FAQs are also available to help you find the answers to basic questions.

The Edward E. Ford Foundation (, of Washington, D.C., keeps its online application information in a password-protected area on its site. Instructions read: “Schools and associations which have secured a place on an agenda for consideration by the Board of the Foundation will be issued a password to be entered below to access specific directions and necessary forms for submitting a proposal.” Check the guidelines, annual report, or programs of interest to help determine your organization’s eligibility.

The Glaser Progress Foundation (, of Seattle, Washington, offers three ways for grantseekers to apply. First, an online grant application form is available that can be submitted immediately to the foundation upon completion. Those who can’t complete the application form immediately can use the outline, featuring information to be included in an application (available in Word and PDF formats). You can also e-mail an electronic version of the application to the foundation or produce a hard copy and send it in via ground-based mail. The foundation will acknowledge receipt of the application within one week.

The Frank Stanley Beveridge Foundation’s Web site ( is designed “to determine whether your organization is eligible to receive grants from the Foundation and to permit you to initiate a grant application.” The site has an interactive survey you can take to help determine your eligibility. Because the Westfield, Massachusetts, foundation has geographic limitations, grantseekers are asked to click on a map of the United States to determine if they fall within the foundation’s geographic guidelines. The next step is to enter your zip code. If you are geographically eligible, you will be queried as to the type of support requested. If you qualify, you are taken to an electronic preliminary grant proposal form. If approved, a printed grant proposal abstract and guidelines will be mailed to you. If you do not qualify, you will receive notification to that effect.

Portals, Content Aggregators, and Information-Rich Sites

A number of foundations have developed Web sites that go well beyond presenting information about their own programs. These sites offer educational and advocacy materials in support of the causes that the foundation’s leadership cares about.

In the field of healthcare, for example, the Princeton, New Jersey-based Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (; the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation ( in Menlo Park, California; and the New York City-based Dana Foundation (formerly The Charles A. Dana Foundation) ( use their sites to inform people about issues addressed by their grantmaking programs. The Dana Foundation’s Web site, for instance, offers extensive information about programs, activities, and foundation publications and serves as a “gateway to brain information.” The Web site offers access to general information about the brain and current brain research, including publications, links, and even a children’s section. The Dana BrainWeb is a directory of links to Web sites in multiple categories related to brain diseases and disorders. Additional links are added quarterly.

In another type of Web presentation, the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Web site ( provides a range of interactive features for those who serve disadvantaged children. The KidsCount section of the site offers statistical data in state-by-state profiles, graphs (state indicators graphed over time), maps, rankings, and raw data downloadable in a number of file formats. In 2003, the foundation added a new feature to KidsCount called the CLIKS system. This system “brings together data on the well-being of children collected by KidsCount grantees from state and local sources.” You can search the data to generate customized statistical reports and color-coded maps on a state, county, city, and community level. The Family to Family initiative offers tools for meeting the challenges of the child welfare system. Resource tools include a fact sheet, a multi-page summary, a full implementation guide (requires registration), and an online publications order form for obtaining print copies. In addition to the Family to Family initiative, visitors can also access information on a range of other Casey Foundation initiatives.

These are but a few examples of today’s foundation Web sites that go beyond the mere provision of basic information about the grantmakers themselves. These sites demonstrate the trend of a growing number of foundations that are truly committed to using the Web to enhance their relationships with grantees and potential grantees and to use this vast worldwide platform to educate the public about specific issues or areas of concern.

Online Resource Information Centers

The Internet has revolutionized the availability of information to educate and inform the public about the activities of foundations. The Web sites included in this section are those of philanthropic infrastructure organizations, grantmaker associations, or other membership groups. They offer useful tools for unearthing information on foundations, understanding how they work, and learning more about the people who manage them.

The Council on Foundations (, a nonprofit membership association of grantmaking foundations and corporations, offers comprehensive philanthropic information on foundations geared to the interests of its grantmaking audience. The mission of the council is to serve the public good by promoting and enhancing responsible and effective philanthropy. For more than 50 years, the Council on Foundations has helped foundation staff, trustees, and board members in their day-to-day grantmaking activities. Through one-to-one technical assistance, research, publications, conferences and workshops, legal services, and a wide array of other services, the council addresses the important issues and challenges that face foundations and corporate funders.

The council maintains an informational Web site geared toward its grantmaker audience that highlights the primary types of nonprofit philanthropic organizations: community foundations, corporate foundations/giving programs, family foundations, private/independent and private operating foundations, public foundations, and non-U.S. foundations. The site is user-friendly, with targeted links focusing on foundations and their operations. At the council’s site you will find information on networking, council publications, job listings, FAQs, legal information, news, events listings, and tools for grantmakers to assist them in their daily work. There is also information on accountability, emerging issues, governing boards, government relations, inclusiveness and diversity, information management, media relations, philanthropic advisors, professional development, public policy, research, and resources for starting a foundation. Much of the site is available only to council members, but some sections are open to everyone.

Each year the council organizes conferences, workshops, and lectures aimed at the grantmaking public. Among the conferences offered by the council are the Family Foundations Virtual Conference, the Conference for Community Foundations, and its Annual Membership Conference. Major speeches from council events and activities can be found under Speeches of Note in the About COF section of the site.

Grantmaker associations are another important source of information. Generally organized along regional or state lines, the Web sites of these associations contain contact and other useful information about grantmaking foundations in their areas.

The Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers ( is a national membership organization of 28 of the nation’s largest regional associations of grantmakers (RAGs). RAGs themselves are associations of area grantmakers, representing more than 4,000 local grantmakers nationwide, that affiliate with other member grantmakers to enhance the effectiveness of private philanthropy in their regions. The forum conducts research and studies of interest to those seeking information on new ventures in charitable giving. The forum’s Web site serves as a national network for other colleague organizations that collaborate with RAGs around the country. The forum helps RAGs in providing local leadership to grantmakers in several important areas. One such area, New Ventures in Philanthropy, provides initiatives to help promote the creation of new foundations and corporate giving programs and to encourage new donors to endow philanthropic funds, the income and/or principal of which will be used for grantmaking. It does so in part by developing tools and approaches to promote philanthropy and by awarding grants to coalitions or organizations that promote the full range of options available for establishing foundations, giving programs, and other grantmaking funds. Another important area, Public Policy, helps alert grantmakers to new challenges and changes in the philanthropic world that may impact the breadth and scope of giving. On the site, you will also find a complete list of RAGs in the United States, giving resources, and common grant application/report forms used by member RAGs.

The Association of Small Foundations (ASF) (, based in Bethesda, Maryland, is a membership organization of nearly 2,800 small foundations, committed to building and strengthening small foundation philanthropy by providing top quality, timely, practical, member-driven programs to all foundations with few or no staff. Members have access to the many programs offered by ASF, including a quarterly newsletter; an annual member survey; a directors and officers liability insurance policy at reduced rates; full access to the members-only ASF Web site with hundreds of downloadable articles, sample grant guidelines, job descriptions, request-for-proposal letters, and grant agreement letters; guides to colleagues and programs of other foundations that may be doing similar work to their own; national and regional meetings; discounted periodicals and software programs; answers to questions submitted by other members; trustee leadership meetings; and Foundations in a Box, a comprehensive resource (in electronic or print formats) containing more than 2,000 pages of expertise from more than 140 different authors on topics such as investment management, tax and legal guidelines, grantmaking, board issues, and small office management. New foundations may be eligible for complimentary membership.

Conducting Online Funding Research Using the Foundation Center's Web Site

In order to facilitate your online funding research, the Finding Funders section of the Foundation Center’s Web site offers several search features you can use to identify and locate potential funders that have Web sites. Two of the more useful are the Grantmaker Web Sites and Sector Search features. Grantmaker Web Sites and Sector Search offer two similar, yet distinct, ways of finding potential funders active on the Web. Both are searchable databases of the more than 2,400 grantmakers that currently have Web sites, and both allow you to search by grantmaker type.

Grantmaker Web Sites offers annotated links to thousands of grantmaker Web sites, divided into three searchable categories: private independent foundations, corporate grantmakers, and grantmaking public charities. The grantmaker search engine in each category allows you to search annotations created by Center staff for grantmakers by subject and geographic keyword, making it possible for you to assemble a preliminary list of grantmakers on the Web that may be able to address your specific funding needs. A fourth category, community foundations, is organized alphabetically by state.

Sector Search, by contrast, is similar to a general search engine, in that it lets you search for keywords on individual Web pages. You can tailor your search to a specific grantmaker type, or you can use the Advanced Search feature for a higher degree of specificity. Sector Search also allows you to search nonprofit and government Web sites in addition to the four grantmaker types found in Grantmaker Web Sites.

Remember, however, that even though these two tools represent the most complete listing of foundations on the Web, your search will be restricted to those funders with some sort of Web presence—currently, around 2,400 grantmakers of the more than 74,000 tracked by the Foundation Center. In other words, unlike the information in the Center’s print directories, FC Search: The Foundation Center’s Database on CD-ROM, and The Foundation Directory Online, the comprehensiveness of the annotations in the Grantmaker Web Sites and Sector Search directories depends solely on the availability and breadth of the online resources themselves. Because of this, going directly to individual foundation Web sites is most useful if you have already identified them as potential funders of your work. Of course, as more grantmakers join the online community, the Center will continue to expand its list of searchable site annotations.

Foundations on the Web: Levels of Engagement

We’ve already made note of the fact that even with the technological strides made by private foundations in the last several years, the philanthropic field as a whole still lags behind the corporate sector, where utilization of the Web in fulfillment of day-to-day operations is concerned.

In this section, we explore the very broad spectrum of user engagement available at foundation Web sites. By “engagement,” we are referring to the degree to which a particular foundation’s Web site communicates useful information to the visitor by means of its content offerings, interactivity, and overall design. The level of engagement the grantseeker encounters at a particular Web site should not be taken as a true reflection of that funder’s commitment to its grantees and grant applicants, however. This is because, as we know, technology is expensive, budgets may be tight, and it takes a while for some foundation board members to become convinced that a fully-developed Web site will, in fact, enhance rather than detract from efforts aimed at their core business—philanthropy. In most instances, from the grantseeker’s perspective, even a “plain vanilla” Web site is better than no Web site at all, as long as it’s been updated within the past year.

In the area of content, grantmaker Web sites offer varying levels of information that can be viewed along a continuum. At one end of the continuum, this might include simple information about the foundation and its mission, contact information, and perhaps an e-mail address—the kind of thing one would expect to find in a brief fact sheet. Further along the continuum one might encounter such items as guidelines, grants listings, annual reports, and even some financial information (including in a few instances the most recent Form 990-PF available). Still further along the continuum more user-friendly sites provide links to proposal writing resources, samples of successful proposals that the foundation has funded, and application forms that may be viewed online, downloaded, or printed out.

Interactivity is another element that serves to make grantmaker Web sites engaging for the visitor. At the most basic level, a foundation may offer a simple HTML listing of grants. At the next level the visitor might actually find a searchable database of prior grants awarded. As we’ve seen, some sites, in addition to enabling the visitor to search in a variety of ways, provide online application forms. (While the online application is a definite trend, grantmakers who use them struggle with the requirement that certain supporting documents, such as the IRS determination letter and audited financial statements, still need to be submitted by “snail” mail and somehow attached to the proposal that already came in online.)

As new technology has become available, some grantmaker Web sites now offer interactive eligibility self-tests that pose a series of questions to help the grantseeker determine if he or she should pursue this particular funding prospect or not. Most recently a few foundation Web sites have begun to take the element of interactivity to a new level by adding “personalization” software that enables the grantseeker to create a customized profile, reflecting the kind of information he or she seeks. The next time (and every time thereafter until the visitor modifies his or her user profile) the gransteeker logs in to this particular site, the information on the screen will be tailored to his or her area(s) of interest, geographic location, level of expertise, and so on.

The design elements one encounters at foundation Web sites will, of course, vary greatly from site to site. Some are little more than electronic versions of pamphlets that are regularly distributed to grantseekers, while others employ the latest innovations to make their Web sites not only useful, but a pleasure to look at as well.

In recent years, many foundations have transformed their plain Web sites into more appealing and complex sites. Examples of stellar Web content, interactivity, and design now abound. But it also has been instructive to observe the steady increase in the number of small- and medium-sized foundations that have been able to leverage modest new media budgets into excellent examples of the ways in which a Web site can further the mission of a foundation by engaging its audience through content, interactivity, and design.


This brief introduction to the world of independent foundations on the Web is designed to give you a taste of the wealth and scope of information to be found on the various types of grantmaker sites you are likely to encounter. We invite you to explore the full range of grantmaker sites available using the various search tools offered on the Foundation Center’s Web site or by other means, such as general search engines.


Corporate Giving: An Overview
How to Find Corporate Funders
Making the Best Use of Available Resources


The motivations behind the giving policies of individual corporations vary widely and can be complex. Before delving into corporate giving research on the Web, a brief description of why and how corporations give will offer grantseekers a better understanding of what to look for when undertaking online investigation into corporations as possible sources of funding.

Corporate giving usually entails a combination of altruism and self-interest. Unlike foundations and other charitable agencies, philanthropy is at best a minor sideline for most corporations. Their main obligations are to their customers, employees, shareholders, and the “bottom line.” They give to support employee services, guarantee well-trained potential employees, build both local and national community relations, enhance their image, return favors, secure tax deductions, and influence policy and opinion makers.

Companies understand the power of publicity and that charitable giving helps build a strong public image. Some enlightened companies view giving as essential for good corporate citizenship. However, corporations expect concrete rewards in return for their generosity.

Many companies today use the Internet as a means to promote their philanthropic activities. By posting information about their charitable endeavors on the Web, companies make the public aware that they are involved in improving the quality of life, particularly in areas of company operations. This exposure gives the company a positive image and improves public relations, which ultimately translates into increased profits.

How to Find Corporate Funders

Most corporate giving coincides closely with other corporate activities and usually is limited to the geographic areas where companies conduct business, including headquarters and plant and subsidiary locations. The grantseeker’s search should focus on local businesses as well as on major corporations that operate in their neighborhood. Corporate directories and corporate giving studies are key resources.

In addition to the Web strategies outlined below, grantseekers should also consult public libraries for regional and business indexes. The local Chamber of Commerce and Better Business Bureau also may have such guides. Do not overlook the yellow pages and local community newspapers. In corporate grantseeking, personal contacts are essential. A grantseeker should consider board members, volunteers, and staff as assets who may have important contacts with corporate funders. These people should be encouraged to share their knowledge and to think about whom they may know who can help secure corporate funding.

Utilizing the Web as a Search Tool

Many companies now maintain a presence on the Web. With a little ingenuity on the grantseeker’s part, these sites can become important potential sources of information about corporate community involvement and grantmaking activities.

• Searching: Secondary Corporate Giving Reources

Several portal sites are good starting points for grantseekers in search of corporate giving programs and company-sponsored foundations. Primary among these are the Foundation Center’s Web site (
), the U.K.-based Charities Aid Foundation’s CCInet (, and the CSC Non-Profit Resource Center ( These sites have extensive lists of links to corporate giving programs and company-sponsored foundations.

The Foundation Center’s Web Sites of Corporate Grantmakers (
) is a listing of corporate givers that can be browsed alphabetically or searched by subject or geographic keyword.

The Charities Aid Foundation’s CCInet (, a corporate community involvement site, hosts a searchable database of more than 270 companies that offer some form of charitable giving. CCInet is based in the UK but includes American companies in its database. You can search alphabetically or by keyword, country, grantmaker type, grant type (or type of support), grant area (or field of interest), online report type, or business type. Entries in your search results indicate which companies have earned the CCInet Gold or Silver Hallmark Award, which are benchmarks for corporate giving. A useful key also lets you quickly identify the availability of ethics reports, social responsibility reports, environmental audits, and foundation reports.

The CSC Non-Profit Resource Center’s Web site ( has an informative listing of links to corporate givers. Hundreds of links are coded with subject headings to identify funding areas. An icon identifies recently added links.

• Searching: Doing It Yourself Using a Search Engine

Another way to find corporate giving information on the Internet is to use a search engine. If you’re new at this, try each one out to see which search engine has the features you like best. The key to retrieving a reasonable number of hits that contain useful information on corporate giving, rather than a list of thousands of irrelevant Web sites, is choosing the proper search terms and knowing the rules and limitations of the search engine you are using. There are differences in how search engines work and what results you can expect from them.

The search terms you select can greatly improve your search results. Try to search initially with broad phrases such as "corporate giving," "community relations," or "company contributions." Once you have an idea about what kind of information is available by means of a particular search engine, you may be able to further narrow your searches by adding words more specific to your needs (e.g., "arts corporate giving"). You may also want to try the same search using various search engines; you will often get vastly different results. Other terms to try are "in-kind gifts," if looking for product donations, or "community reinvestment act," for those seeking loans.

• Searching: Uncovering Giving Information on Corporate Web Sites

A different strategy is required to research the corporate giving policies of a specific company. Often there is no "search" option on a particular corporate Web site, although gradually this feature is becoming more available. You must be on the lookout, therefore, for broad categories that may lead you to the information you seek. Often you will find these categories among a menu containing items such as Products and Services, Investor Relations, and so on. The categories most likely to contain information on the giving policies of the company typically are found under headings such as Community Relations, Public Affairs, Corporate Information, or About Us.

Frequently, corporate giving information is contained on a "page within a page." In other words, you have to delve deeply, or in the case of a Web site, click often, to get to it. The best way to circumvent this sometimes tedious process is to use the site map, if one is available. A good site map will list most or all of the pages contained on the Web site. These listings are usually the simplest way to move to the subject you are looking for and are often more reliable than the hit-or-miss process of clicking from page to page.

Researching Corporate Information

You may want to begin with basic information about the company itself, including the areas of company operations, the products and services the company provides, a list of corporate officers, and fiscal information.

A good place to start when looking for information about a public company (that is, a company whose stock is traded publicly) is the Securities and Exchange Commission’s EDGAR Database ( This is a text-only database that contains an archive of all the financial documents filed with the SEC since 1994.

This site contains extensive information about every public company and its operations. Most of the basic information about a company can be found in an annual filing called a 10-K. The main challenge is digging through a lot of material that is irrelevant in order to find the information you need. This requires patience and persistence.

Another valuable site to consider when researching corporate information is the Yahoo! Finance Company and Fund Index ( This site provides a searchable database of information on more than 9,000 public companies in the United States.

One of the most comprehensive sites for corporate information on public and private companies, not only in the United States but abroad, is Hoover’s Online ( Hoover’s boasts access to records on millions of companies, although a subscription is needed for full access.

Helpful pages for information about businesses on other Web sites include Internet Prospector’s Corporations page ( and the Companies and Executives section of David Lamb’s Prospect Research Page ( Both sites have links to corporate directories and other sources of business information, and either is a good starting point when looking for corporate information. Those wishing to receive or view corporate annual reports may want to visit the Investor Relations Information Network ( Here, annual reports for more than 3,000 companies can be accessed in PDF format.

Most of the information available on these sites concerns publicly traded companies. Finding information on privately held corporations requires more research and ingenuity and may also necessitate using a search engine to look up the company in question to see if it’s on the Web.

Perhaps the quickest and easiest way to find a public or private corporation’s information is to simply type the name of a company into your browser’s location bar and hope for success. Many companies have set up Web sites that can be accessed by the most obvious "" format.

For example, Verizon Communications’ Web site can be found at By clicking on the link called About Verizon, a wealth of corporate information becomes available. The company’s annual report and press releases can be found in the Investor Information section of this page.

Sara Lee’s Web site can be found at By selecting Our Company, one can access corporate facts and figures, including a listing of company leaders in Corporate Officers, an historical summary in History/Timeline, and correspondence data in Contact Us.

If you encounter difficulties locating corporate Web sites, try different variations of a company’s name. For example, the Web site for 3M can be found alternately at and at

Finding Philanthropic Information on Individual Corporate Web Sites

Corporations on the Web present their giving information in widely varying formats. Some companies provide easy access to their philanthropic activities directly from their home pages, while others may have information on their grantmaking programs buried within other sections. Some companies provide no giving information at all on their Web sites, while others combine direct corporate giving program information with foundation information on a single page. Grantseekers must be diligent in order to find the information they need on a corporate Web site. You should examine the information provided on a corporate site very carefully before applying for a grant.

As noted, while it is often the case that a company provides giving information within a section called Corporate Information or About Us.

Here's what to look for:

Annual report
Business statement
Executive officers
Press releases
Product listings
Worldwide locations
You should read whatever material the company provides carefully and then determine whether your organization is a logical candidate for a particular program. An inappropriate application is a waste of time for both the candidate and the corporation.

Some companies provide site maps, which can be used as a guide to finding a hidden page. For example, Clorox’s home page includes a link to its site map, which clearly shows that the company has dedicated a page to its philanthropic activities ( Community Involvement is listed in the section called Company Information and can be accessed easily with a click of the mouse directly from the site map.

• Combination Sites: Company-Sponsored Foundations and Corporate Giving Programs

Many companies make charitable contributions both directly and through a company-sponsored foundation. Often, information on both arms of a company’s charitable giving efforts is combined on the Web, making it difficult for the grantseeker to differentiate between the two separate grantmaking bodies. Grantseekers need to proceed with caution when visiting such sites and to conduct further research to determine the appropriate approach. Sometimes both programs are administered out of the same office and by the same staff, while at other times they function completely independently of one another. In some cases they each require separate proposals. Very often, the types of support provided and the geographic limitations established vary widely. For instance, cash donations might be supplied by the foundation, while in-kind support is handled exclusively by the company.

CIGNA’s Web site ( contains information on both a company-sponsored foundation and a direct corporate giving program. In fact, the company announces this fact at the bottom of the last page of its Contributions Report, something many companies neglect to make so obvious. There is valuable information here on CIGNA’s philanthropic endeavors, but one can’t tell for sure whether the information reflects donations made by the CIGNA Foundation or by the company itself. When in doubt, a telephone call to the company is probably the grantseeker’s best bet.

Making the Best Use of Available Resources

Non-Cash or In-Kind Gifts

Many companies also make non-cash contributions. For example, a clothing manufacturer may have “irregulars” or extra clothing to donate to a homeless shelter. It’s important to note that non-cash or in-kind giving often is accomplished through an intermediary. Charities such as Gifts In Kind International (, Share Our Strength (, Volunteers of America (, and New York’s City Harvest ( act as pass-through organizations for corporations wishing to provide in-kind gifts while ensuring that donations reach those who need them most in an efficient manner. Visiting these intermediaries’ Web sites is a worthwhile endeavor for those seeking in-kind support.

Personal Contacts

In terms of corporate grantseeking, how important is it to "know someone"? In the electronic age, real human contact is becoming less prevalent. With e-mail, fax machines, voice mail, and the Web all competing for attention, it is sometimes difficult to get in touch directly with someone you know, much less a stranger. Personal contacts can help, but their impact varies from corporation to corporation. Seeking grants from company foundations and direct corporate giving programs with designated philanthropy personnel and explicit guidelines for grantseekers is unlikely to require personal contacts. Personal contacts may be more important when seeking support from companies with more informal giving programs and no formal guidelines or staff to process requests. It never hurts, however, if someone on your board either works at a corporation or knows the CEO.

In conclusion, securing corporate support demands creativity, ingenuity, and persistence. Competition will be stiff, but gradually, the Web is making it easier for the grantseeker to put his or her best foot forward.


What is Prospect Research?

Research Strategies
Tips to Speed You on Your Way
A Word About Ethics

The Internet is a veritable goldmine for prospect researchers. In fact, the advent of such an enormous compendium of information on virtually any subject readily available at the click of a mouse has totally revolutionized the strategies used by those seeking to raise funds from individuals. Unfortunately, there is no central database or single source of information listing the giving interests of individuals. Unlike foundations, private citizens, no matter how wealthy, are not required to disclose personal financial information or giving histories to the public. Individuals give in ways that reflect their unique interests, and these may change over time. Moreover, even if you are lucky enough to find information on an individual’s philanthropic interests and financial status, you will not find "application guidelines" for approaching this individual. Therefore, you will need to gather information from a variety of sources. In this chapter we will look at some of the most useful Web sites to build your prospect files and, more important, to uncover relevant background information on each of your prospective donors. As a grantseeker you will find that the Internet is much more helpful for the latter function because the basic tenet of fundraising still prevails: the closer an individual is to your organization to begin with, the more likely that person is to give you money.

What Is Prospect Research?
As a prospect researcher you are looking for individuals who have the capacity and willingness to give to your organization and an interest in your cause or project. The research part of the equation involves gathering as much useful and relevant information as you can to measure the three factors noted above. What are the benefits of prospect research? First, it will provide details on the person’s wealth so that you can gauge his or her ability to give. Second, it will provide insight into the person’s background, interests, and hobbies, which will help you determine potential interest in your cause or organization. It may also help you shape your presentation when “making the ask”; you will feel more confident approaching an individual about whom you’ve already discovered some basic information. Third, prospect research can often uncover connections either to other individuals already affiliated with your organization or to relatives, colleagues, and friends who may also be potential prospects.

We recommend a three-pronged approach when researching individuals on the Web: compile, investigate, and analyze.

Compile. Much of the prospecting part of your research goes on at this earliest stage. While some prospect identification will actually take place online, most of the names on your initial prospect list will come from other sources. As noted earlier, it simply stands to reason that someone already involved with your organization or cause is your best source for future gifts. The greater the level of involvement (e.g., board member, volunteer, or past donor), the more likely the contribution. By the same token, the more tenuous the connection (a friend of a staff member, someone who has given to an agency similar to yours, or someone whose colleague died from the disease your agency seeks to cure), the less likely and the smaller the gift. It goes without saying that someone with absolutely no connection to your organization or cause whatsoever is highly unlikely to contribute without extensive cultivation over a period of time, even if he or she has the capacity to do so.

You’ll want to compile as comprehensive a list of prospects as possible before you begin. Your list might be extensive, since it may include all alumni from your college for the past ten years or everyone who gave more than $500 to your local symphony, for example. (Competitors’ Web sites, if they happen to include donor lists, are certainly a good place to look for your own prospects.) You may well use the Web to help compile such master lists. For efficiency’s sake you will want to spend the greater portion of your time, however, researching those prospects with the closest ties to your organization.

Investigate. While this may seem paradoxical, it is a tried and true fundraising technique: learn as much as you can about those prospects you already know. You can never tell when a seemingly minor detail you uncover will make or break your appeal. Is it possible that you’ll actually encounter new prospective donors in the course of your Web research? Absolutely. Every fundraiser has a tale to tell regarding how he or she suddenly and unexpectedly came across the perfect donor in the least likely place. And the nature of the Web, with its multiple access points, interfaces, and links at all levels makes the "eureka!" phenomenon even more likely.

Nonetheless, most of your online research time will be spent using various Web sites and search engines to find out as much as possible about names you’ve already gathered.

Analyze. The Internet belongs to everyone and to no one. There is no Webmaster in the sky, no content manager you can rely on to exercise overall editorial control to ensure that what you find will be up-to-date or even accurate. For this reason we recommend that you seek out the most authoritative sources possible. There’s no guarantee, for example, that what you find on Hoover’s reputable business information site ( is totally correct or current, but it’s far more likely to be than what you come across on the Web site of some online business-related newsletter you have never heard of before.

A healthy dose of skepticism is the online prospector’s best friend. If you uncover "facts" about your prospect on the Web that seem too good to be true, they may well be. The best way to protect yourself is also a favorite requirement of many newspaper editors: confirm all critical data in at least one other reliable source before you accept any information as valid. When visiting a Web site for the first time, always check to see who the host is. There’s usually an About Us section that can be more or less informative. Look for information that indicates when a site was last updated, as we’ve mentioned earlier. This is essential for time-sensitive materials. The more experience you have with this type of analysis, the more it will become second nature to you. Eventually you will get to the point where you can almost sense whether the information you’ve gathered is adequate to proceed with an appeal or whether you need to keep on digging to compile more data.

At the end of the analysis stage, you will want to rate your various prospects to coincide with your plans to approach them. Depending on the nature of your project, you may have a different means of approach in mind for each one (e.g., a phone call for one, a visit from a board member for another, and a letter of endorsement for a third). Or you may be making a mass appeal to a wider list (e.g., a brochure mailing, a telethon, or an invitation to a gala).

Tips to Speed You on Your Way

When researching an individual on the Web or elsewhere, clearly it is critical to be sure you’re looking up the right person. The spelling or alternate spellings, nicknames, middle names, initials, or such suffixes as "Jr." or "III" are all very important for you to know before you begin your research. Of course, if one form of a person’s name doesn’t work, you can always try another with very little time or effort expended.

Geographic locations, including where the person lives (including multiple residences), works, or where he or she vacations, can be helpful as well. It’s also good to know women’s maiden or former names. All of these elements will help prevent you from going down some blind online alleys before you hit on the right source.

We mentioned relevance earlier. This is an important rule of thumb to keep in mind: if you’ve found nothing useful after 20 minutes or so of searching, it’s probably time to move on to a different site or to perform a new search on a different prospect.

Have a specific strategy in mind before you get started. How much time do you plan to spend on the Web as opposed to other, more traditional resources? While this guide is about conducting research on the Web, the Internet is not the be-all and end-all of research tools. There may well be magazines, newspapers, or print or electronic directories that have the information you require. And don’t overlook the value of the "invisible network," that is, people who know something about someone that might be useful to you. Lastly, that wellspring of helpful information, your local librarian, can be a wonderful resource for those seeking relevant information on prospective donors, particularly those who are famous or prominent only in your own locale.

A Word about Ethics

Unlike other types of grantmakers, individuals—people just like us—might feel a bit uncomfortable, at a minimum, about their privacy being invaded by someone looking to solicit them for a charitable gift. While privacy matters have always been of concern to prospect researchers, the Web has made it incredibly easy to uncover information that in the past only the most persistent and creative fundraiser would have been able to unearth. Horror stories abound about very private information, such as medical histories, banking records, or legal matters, being readily accessible on the Internet to those with access to someone’s Social Security number. As a grantseeker you need to be highly sensitive to the appropriateness of what you uncover. First, you may not want to let your prospect know how deeply you’ve been delving into personal matters; but secondly, you may not want to let yourself get involved with his or her information beyond your own comfort level. If you work for a large nonprofit development office, your own organization should have standards regarding what is appropriate and what is not in terms of respecting a prospect’s privacy.

In response to the many issues raised regarding privacy rights and readily available, free online information on individuals, the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement (APRA) has posted a Statement of Ethics on its Web site (

The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) also posts ethical standards and a statement of principles on its site (, and the ePhilanthropy Foundation has posted a code specifically related to ethical online practices on its site (

In summary, the resources on the Web for researching individuals are quite extensive. Most of the resources you will encounter as a grantseeker are available free of charge or at minimal expense. While in this chapter we have just scratched the surface of what is out there, we have tried to provide a selective list of some of the better sites, guidance on the best approach to these Web sites, and recommendations on research strategies to adopt. Our best advice is to utilize the individual prospect worksheet we provided as a research tool and maintain your critical eye as you visit each site. Your most valuable resource as a grantseeker is your own time. To preserve this resource you need to adhere to the disciplined approach we described earlier. And keep in mind that the best prospects you’ll uncover online have the capacity to give, an interest in your cause, and a connection to your organization.


Some Definitions
E-Learning Sites for Nonprofits

Introduction to E-Learning

Here we explore the current status of e-learning in the nonprofit sector. As an efficient and relatively inexpensive means of training large groups of far-flung employees, particularly in technical matters, national and multi-national corporations have adopted e-learning with alacrity. Universities have also jumped on the e-learning bandwagon as both a source of additional revenue for non-degree courses and as a way to broaden their student bodies to include those who have day jobs and prefer to take classes on their own schedules at night or on weekends. Nonprofit organizations have been slower to embrace Web-based technology in general and e-learning in particular. But the past few years have born witness to more and more nonprofit Web sites being used to solicit donations, market goods, and serve as informational vehicles about community services and projects. And gradually the number of e-learning opportunities is beginning to proliferate as nonprofits exploit the potential of this new platform to assist staff and volunteers in developing new skills and in learning the many "tricks of the trade" of fundraising and nonprofit management.

It is now possible, for example, to earn a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University (, to further professional development by taking a CFRE-accredited Online Course in Fundraising from the Association of Fundraising Professionals (
), or to take online tutorials from Neighborhood Networks, which cover topics such as technology, proposal writing, and partnership development ( The Foundation Center’s Virtual Classroom ( also offers 14 free tutorials and other online learning modules, including a Proposal Writing Short Course in English and in Spanish.

Some Definitions

"Distance learning" is a very broad term and refers to any and all educational endeavors that utilize CD-ROMs, videotapes, audiotapes, closed-circuit television, radio broadcasting, satellite transmission, online training, and other formats to facilitate learning when student and instructor are separated in time and/or space. Distance learning has a long history, of course, going back to correspondence classes completed through the mail or radio in the mid-20th century. With the rapid growth of the World Wide Web, distance learning has taken on entirely new dimensions. Although used interchangeably with such terms as Web-based learning, online learning, or distributed learning, the term "e-learning," as we’ll employ it in this chapter, is primarily associated with activities involving computers and interactive networks. The Web-based environment, with its 24/7 access, speed, and multiple modes of communication is fully exploitable to both complement and extend distance learning efforts. And it enables students to have a variety of truly interactive experiences outside the traditional classroom setting. E-learning also breaks down geographic barriers so that students in rural outposts and overseas can participate as well.

Other terms to become familiar with when embarking on a discussion of e-learning include "synchronous" learning, "asynchronous" learning, "blended" learning, "brick and click" schools, "virtual" classes, online "chat," "application sharing," and "threaded" discussions.

Synchronous learning takes place over the Internet in real time. For example, all students taking a given class may simultaneously view a video stream of a professor delivering a lecture from a remote location and then participate in an online chat with that professor. On the other hand, in an asynchronous mode, a student/learner may log in to a discussion forum after reading lecture notes posted to a Web site earlier in the week and then respond through the forum according to his or her own time schedule. A threaded discussion is simply a version of a regular classroom discussion on a particular topic or topics, except that it is posted to the Web or through e-mail. Blended learning takes advantage of both real-time interactions and asynchronous interaction to create the most flexible learning environment. And in the same vein, brick and click schools combine traditional classroom options with Web-based learning modules.

To further understand these and other terms, visit the glossaries of e-learning terms that can be found on the United States Distance Learning Association Web site ( or in the American Society for Training & Development’s online publication, Learning Circuits (

E-learning has been criticized for being "lonely" for the student. But far from having a solitary experience, e-learners actively engage in creating "learning communities." Loosely analogous to a group of students in a traditional classroom, such electronic communities are built by means of chat rooms, discussion forums, e-mail, and other interactive modes of Web-based communication. Web-based learning communities are especially attractive vehicles for nonprofit organizations to consider as extensions of their traditional services and communication efforts. Information technologies offer new opportunities for nonprofits to network, strengthen ties to the communities they serve, foster collaborations, and build new audiences.

Let’s take a look at some of the resources currently available to nonprofit e-learners.

E-Learning Sites for Nonprofits

Lack of technological capabilities and limited funding are major drawbacks facing nonprofits interested in e-learning. However, the following Web sites reflect the diverse array of nonprofit e-learning opportunities available, many targeted to specific audiences or subgroups within the nonprofit sector. They include both certificate and non-certificate programs, as well as courses that are free and those that require a fee. Most of the hosting organizations are nonprofit, but a few are not. These sites can be viewed as both resources for e-learners and as a sampling of the ways nonprofit organizations are exploring e-learning. They display varying degrees of sophistication in their level of interactivity and their utilization of the e-learning tools currently available.

Association of Fundraising Professionals—First Course in Fundraising (

The Association of Fundraising Professional’s First Course in Fundraising gives professionals a fundamental understanding of the entire development process. This Web-based "streaming video" course, consisting of eight self-paced modules, covers the basics of managing a fundraising program and provides an overview of fundraising techniques, including annual campaigns, capital campaigns, grant support, and major gifts. The First Course in Fundraising is available both to association members and non-members for a fee. A brief, free demonstration can be viewed in the Windows Media Player.

Council on Foundations—Grantmaking Basics Online (

The Council on Foundations is a membership organization that assists foundation staff, trustees, and board members with their grantmaking activities. Grantmaking Basics Online is an adaptation of the council’s print publication, Grantmaking Basics: A Field Guide for Funders, with one new chapter written specifically for the Web. Though mostly a straightforward text presentation, some interactivity is evident, primarily through the use of study guides, brief quizzes, and e-mail updates. The Grantmaking Basics Online Mentor Program pairs a beginning grantmaker with an experienced grantmaker (based on similar interests and values). Mentor and mentee work together to achieve the learning objectives of Grantmaking Basics Online.

The Foundation Center’s Virtual Classroom (

The Foundation Center’s Virtual Classroom has a number of free online tutorials including Proposal Budgeting Basics, Establishing a Nonprofit Organization, Orientation to the Grantseeking Process, and more. The Virtual Classroom’s newest training module, the FC Search Interactive Tour, offers an interactive, "hands-on" guided tour of FC Search: The Foundation Center’s Database on CD-ROM. Based on the content of some of the free classes offered at Foundation Center libraries, the tutorials in the Virtual Classroom are extremely useful to gain an understanding of how to use essential funding resources and the fundamentals of the foundation fundraising process. New to the Center’s Web site is its first interactive Web-based course on Finding Funding for Your Education.

World Wide Learn—Non-Profit & Fundraising Training (

World Wide Learn is one of the largest Web-based directories of online courses covering more than 150 subject areas, including accredited degree programs, continuing education, and other online training. The Non-Profit & Fundraising Training category provides information and links to online courses on topics such as proposal writing, fundraising basics, community development, business planning, not-for-profit accounting, volunteer management, and more.

Benton Foundation—Open Studio: The Arts Online (

The Benton Foundation, based in Washington, D.C., "seeks to shape the emerging communications environment in the public interest," and to help "nonprofit organizations enhance the impact of their work through strategic use of communications technologies and digital media." One of the foundation’s initiatives is Open Studio: The Arts Online. In partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, this initiative seeks to provide Web access and training to artists and arts organizations to ensure and expand their presence on the Internet.

Free Management Library—Free, On-Line Nonprofit Organization and Management Development Program (

The Free Management Library, a project of the Management Assistance Program for Nonprofits (, offers 13 learning modules in its On-Line Nonprofit Organization and Management Development Program (the Free Nonprofit Micro-eMBA). Modules include Understanding Your Nonprofit, Developing Your Strategic Plan, Developing Your Fundraising Plan, and Designing Your Program Evaluation Plans. These very basic self-paced modules, though not really interactive, do provide in-depth information on each topic, including links to further resources, suggested learning activities, and toolkits.

Leader to Leader Institute (

The Leader to Leader Institute (formerly known as Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management) offers a number of online courses. One of the newest is Meeting the Collaboration Challenge Workshop (
), which covers the preparation, planning, and development required for successful nonprofit and business alliances. The workshop follows an essentially synchronous model, with telephone conferencing and a small amount of self-paced instruction and homework required in preparation for the conference calls. (

The site is a Web-based delivery platform for online professional development courses for nonprofit executives, staff, and volunteers. Through a collaboration with its partners, offers a series of four-week, fee-based courses, entitled Fundraising on the Internet: How to Succeed (soon to be available in Spanish), The Medium & the Message: Maximizing Your Online Marketing, Harnessing the Net: Realizing Your Organization’s Online Potential, and If You Build It . . . How to Make a Better Nonprofit Web Site. Following the blended model, class formats combine live chat class time, structured Web tours, and collaborative group work, with individual offline readings and assignments.

Nonprofit Risk Management Center—Risk Management Tutorials (

The Nonprofit Risk Management Center provides assistance and resources for community-serving nonprofit organizations. The center has developed several free online tutorials, including the No Surprises Volunteer Risk Management Tutorial, which is designed as a risk assessment guide for managers of volunteer programs, and the Accident Preparation and Response Tutorial, designed to help nonprofits prepare for, and respond to, workplace-related accidents. These online tutorials, while not highly interactive, are a good example of how to provide essential instruction over the Web.

Isoph Institute (

The Isoph Institute is a for-profit company that assists nonprofit organizations with integrating learning technologies into their programs and is a good source of information on these issues. Isoph provides e-learning authoring tools, a free mini-consultation on e-learning strategy, and online courses exclusively for nonprofit organizations and socially focused organizations. The Isoph Institute recently merged with SmarterOrg ( to pool their collective resources and expertise to better serve their customers. Course demonstrations are available after a free registration procedure at the site.

Strategic Press Information Network—SPIN Tutorials (

The Strategic Press Information Network (SPIN) Project provides comprehensive media technical assistance in the form of training, intensive media strategizing, and resources for nonprofit community organizations across the country. The SPIN Tutorials are a collection of online tutorials aimed at teaching nonprofits effective media strategies and tactics to support social change work. Online tutorials include Strategic Media Plans, News Hooks, Cultivating Relationships with Reporters, Making News with Your Report, Internet PR, Photo Ops and Media Events, Media Lists, Working with PR Consultants, Setting Up Shop, and a Clips Tipsheet. The tutorials offer candid observations and straightforward suggestions throughout. They are self-paced and rely on text and colorful graphics to carry the weight of the instruction.

TechSoup: Articles—Training (

TechSoup, a CompuMentor site, is a comprehensive source of technology information for nonprofit organizations. From TechSoup’s Training page (in the Articles and News section) you can access a list of online training providers. Each entry is annotated (including contact information) and rated by TechSoup users. Also from the Training page, you can access a listing of online training courses, such as Beginning PC Maintenance, "donated" (read discounted) by SkillSoft, an e-learning solutions company.

University of Illinois at Chicago—Online Certificate in Nonprofit Management (

The University of Illinois at Chicago’s Online Certificate in Nonprofit Management, a Web-based professional education program, is designed for nonprofit practitioners who want to enhance their knowledge, skills, and contacts. Certificate programs include Financial Management, Nonprofit Governance, Fundraising Management, Marketing Management, Strategic Management, and Operational Management. These courses give the student access to a wide array of online tools, such as Web conferencing, threaded discussions, and synchronous chat. Lectures, class work, and discussions are all posted online. This is a good example of a higher education institution moving into the e-learning field with a side benefit to the nonprofit community.


Keep in mind that many of the Web sites in the previous selected list include their own e-newsletters, journals, or discussion forums. It is always a good idea when you find a site that is particularly useful or relevant to your needs to browse further to see what features are available, to be sure that you don’t miss anything critical.

We hope that the resources highlighted here will serve as a useful, if not comprehensive, introduction to emerging e-learning opportunities in the nonprofit sector. As is obvious from the range of Web sites, e-learning is beginning to strike a positive chord with the nonprofit community.

The Foundation Center's Guide to Grantseeking on the Web

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