Friday, March 02, 2012

Show Me the Money: Foundation Grants to Individuals

money sign photo by 401KFor those members of the library staff who work with financial aid materials, it is a very common occurrence to be asked about the availability of foundation funds for individuals. Until recently, our answers to those kinds of questions have been less than satisfying for patrons who have come to us seeking information about sources of private funding for such things as college tuition, housing assistance, and business ventures. The reason for this is that most foundations and charities do not accept applications from individuals. Instead, they limit their giving to organizations and agencies that are classified by the IRS as being 501 (c) (3) nonprofits.

The good news, however, is that the Birmingham Public Library now has a subscription to a database that is geared specifically toward helping you locate grant funding to meet your individual needs. Foundation Grants to Individuals Online is the name of the database and it is available for use by patrons at the library’s central location. The database is a product of the Foundation Center, a national nonprofit organization headquartered in New York. Established in 1956, the Foundation Center has dedicated itself to collecting, organizing, and disseminating information that helps grant seekers connect with grant makers. The Birmingham Public Library is a cooperating collection of the Foundation Center, and, as such, provides the local community with access to the many reference tools produced by the Center. In years past, these tools consisted solely of large printed directories that included information about foundations and their funding activities. Not surprisingly, in recent years these printed directories have evolved into computer databases that contain ever increasing amounts of useful data that can help those who are looking for grants identify appropriate sources of funding. In addition to Foundation Grants to Individuals Online, the Birmingham Public Library also subscribes to two other databases produced by the Foundation Center: Foundation Directory Online Professional and Philanthropy In/Sight. The Central Library is the only BPL location that provides access to these three databases.

At present, the Foundation Grants to Individuals Online database provides researchers with access to over 9,500 foundations and charitable organizations. The database is fully indexed and the search screen allows users to input as many as 15 different search criteria. Search results provide information about each funder, including detailed financial data and directions for submitting applications. Results can be printed out, emailed, or downloaded onto a flash drive. Assistance in using the database is provided in the form of help screens, FAQs, online tutorials, and live chat support.

So, if you are ready to enter the world of grant seeking, Foundation Grants to Individuals Online is available to help you succeed in your quest. For further information about this database, please contact the staff in the Government Documents Department at the downtown Birmingham Public Library.

Photo credit: 401K

Submitted by Jim Murray
Government Documents Department
Central Library

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