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Finding Funding Challenge

Welcome to Day 2 of the Finding Funding Challenge!

Today, we're going to explore another robust funding database, Foundation Directory Online (FDO). FDO is a searchable database of funder profiles from over 100,000 foundations and public charities. Similar to Pivot, you can enter search criteria that focus your results on foundations that care about the type of work you're trying to do and who you are as a grantseeker. FDO also includes grants previously awarded by foundations, which you can use strategically to see if there are foundations already interested in the type(s) of work you do (i.e., because they've funded others who do work in related areas). FDO is focused on the nonprofit community, but includes scholarships, fellowships, and research funding.

Your Challenge: Find Three Potential Funders in Foundation Directory Online!

1. Go to Foundation Directory Online. Click on "Advanced Search & Filters" to find foundations that provide funding in your project area. Advanced Search & Filters allows you to set parameters that align with who you are as a grantseeker and the kinds of projects you seek to fund. Note: FDO is available remotely to current faculty, staff, and students at UMaine and UMaine-Machias. If you are unaffiliated with these two campuses and like what you are learning about FDO, you can visit the UMaine or UMM libraries in person and use a public computer to access this database, or, if you're in the Portland area, visit the Maine Philanthropy Center (they have in-person access to FDO).

2. Essential fields to complete include "Subject Area" and "Geographic Focus." In the Geographic Focus field, only include "Maine (United States)" if you want to keep your results more manageable and focused. However, you can also include "United States (Country)" for projects that focus their giving beyond one state alone.

3. Click on "Additional Filters" and complete "Support Strategy." This field allows you to choose the type(s) of funding you're looking for.

4. Still not sure if the "Subject Area" terminology quite met your goals? You can use natural language searching in the Keyword field, by entering terms that are specific to your area of interest (e.g., arts education, citizen science, etc.), and/or for the community or social focus of your project (e.g., disaster relief).

5. Click on the big blue Search button. Then, on your results page, go to "Grantmakers." Click "View All" to see which grantmakers are actively funding projects with your search criteria.

And -this is key- click on the box that says "Exclude grantmakers not accepting applications." Some grantmakers do not accept unsolicited applications, so filtering those out of your results can get you closer to funders who are ready to support your work.

Box to click that excludes grantmakers not accepting applications

Now it's time to start clicking on foundation titles to see what they're about and if they're a good fit. When looking at a specific foundation profile, focus on the sections of the profile that say Giving Limitations (this is where you can see if you're eligible to pursue this foundation), Funding Interests (this is where the foundation usually describes programs they focus on), and About (the goals of the foundation), to get a sense of whether or not you and the foundation are a good fit for one another. 

Once you've found a few foundations that look like potential matches, click on the link at the top of each profile that takes you to the funding source itself. Confirm the details of how to apply to the foundation, their review timeline, and any other requirements.

BONUS (Optional) Challenge: Take Your Foundation Funding Skills to the Next Level! 

1. Share funder profiles that are a good fit for your project with community or research partners. In the funder profile, click on the email icon in the Tools window.

2. Download foundation profiles as a pdf or spreadsheet, so that you can continue looking into potential funders after your session in FDO has ended. Click on the pdf or spreadsheet icon in the Tools window above to start your download.

3. After you run your search, look at the Grants section of your results. The Grants section is a historical file of funders who have previously made awards based on your search criteria. Perusing the Grants section is another strategy for finding potential funders - having previously funded projects in your field/subject/project area suggests that a funder may already have an interest in the type of work you do.

Nicely done! You've completed Day 2 of the Finding Funding Challenge!

Next up, we'll look at ways to strategically respond to funding opportunity announcements, including some of the ones you've already found this week.

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