Category Archives: How To

How to Search: A Video!

I’ll be going on maternity leave soon, and I want to make sure new patrons who visit the Grant Resource Center in my absence will be able to use the resources without stressing out the library staff too much. To that end, I quickly created this little five minute video that coves the basics of searching.

What do you think? Yay or nay? Please let me know if it is helpful, so I know if I should create more. (There is a plan in the works to create videos for handling the search results too.)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “FDO_SEARCH“, posted with vodpod



In my exploration of the internet today, I found two new-to-me, valuable resources for grant writers.

The Art of Grantsmanship by Jacob Kraicer is geared towards the science crowd, but it is also a valuable primer for beginning grant writers in any discipline.  Why should we accept advice from Jacob Kraicer?  Because he served on proposal reviewing bodies for over 30 years, that’s why.  There is a very realistic timetable in there too.

Don’t be afraid of statistics!  Check out this PDF available from The Center for Rural Pennsylvania called the Scaredy Cats Guide to Statistics: A How-To Guide for Rural Data Users.  Learn how to gather relevant data and work with it in everyday, easy to understand language.

Typical Proposal Elements

I recently spoke to this year’s Venango Vision Leadership Institute about writing a grant proposal.  As a group they will be developing a project to address real-life problems faced by members of our community, and crafting a grant proposal to fund their project.  None of this year’s participants had ever written a grant proposal, so I was asked to give a brief summary of what is involved in writing one.  Here are my notes:

Typical Elements of a Grant Proposal (a framework to work with; must personalize each proposal according to funder’s specific layout and guidelines)

1. Executive Summary (1 page)
–  Presents an umbrella statement of your case and summary of the entire proposal.
2. Statement of Need (2 pages)
–  Why is your project necessary?  Help the reader understand the problem.
–  Sources of statistics:  the United Way’s Venango County Statistical Profile, FOOF’s $25 CD of stats on Venango County and comparisons to other PA counties, census data available for free at
3. Project Description (3 pages)
–  Outline the nuts and bolts of how your project will be implemented and evaluated.
–  What will happen if this project is funded?  Why use this particular strategy to address this problem?
–  How will you know your project has been a success?  What will you track to show this?
–  What staffing will you require?   Will you use existing staff, volunteers, new hires?
4. Budget (1 page)
–  Financial description of the project with explanatory notes.
5. Organization Information (1 page)
–  Sort of like your organization’s resume, including its history, accomplishments, governing body (board, executive director), primary activities, audiences, and services.
6. Conclusion (2 paragraphs)
–  Provide a summary of the proposal’s main points.
–  How will things be better if this project is funded?
–  Will this project be able to continue after the grant money runs out?
–  Only include as requested by the grant maker, or if you are specifically partnering with other agencies (then include letters of support from those agencies)

5 Steps to Getting the Most from Your Visit to the Grant Resource Center

Franklin Public Library in Franklin, PA, home of the Grant Resource Center

Franklin Public Library in Franklin, PA, home of the Grant Resource Center

1.  If you will be visiting us for the first time, call first and make an appointment.  While not absolutely necessary, making an appointment ensures availability of the computer for researching and staff to assist you.  I (Kate) am usually available Mondays from noon to 8 PM, and Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 AM to 5 PM.  My schedule can vary though, so make extra sure to call ahead if you want me to help you.

2.  If you can, set aside 2 to 3 hours to conduct your research and explore our resources.  If you have not taken any of the Foundation Directory Online Basics classes, about 20 minutes of your first visit will be spent getting the “quick and dirty” tutorial on how to use the databases.  If you can’t block out 2 to 3 hours, commit to one hour at a time.

3.  Come with a particular project in mind.  Searching for funders when you have a particular project in mind is the most efficient use of your time.  This is called proactive grantseeking: you assess your organization’s funding needs, then identify potential funders who might fill those needs.

An aside:  Reactive grantseeking occurs when you respond to a foundation’s Request for Proposals (RFP), whereby a foundation has a project in mind and requests nonprofits to submit proposals to implement that program.  You can receive free RFP information at a personal email address by subscribing to the Foundation Center’s RFP newsletter (left hand column, scroll to bottom and enter your email address under “Subscribe” and click “Add Me”).

4.  Bring a USB flash drive to store the results of your database searches.  You can print the results, but at $0.25 per page, that may get costly.  If you save your results to a flash drive, you will be able to do much more with them, like take them home and peruse them at your leisure, or share them with a colleague via email.

If you are new to using flash drives, we hve them available for purchase at our front desk – they are $10 and hold 1 GB of information.  We can also teach you how to use them.

5.  Visit during the slowest times, which are usually Mondays and Saturdays.

A Basic Research Strategy Using the Foundation Directory Online database

The Foundation Directory Online database is available for free here in the Franklin Public Library’s Grant Resource Center, and you do not need a Franklin library card to access it.  Learn more about the database here.

The easiest way to enter the Foundation Directory Online database is by searching Grantmakers. I say it is the easiest because it allows you 12 different search fields to use in crafting a search, and it uses the most familiar and intuitive terminology (Field of Interest, Geographic Focus, Types of Support, etc.).  There are three other ways to search the Foundation Directory Online database – by Grants, by Companies, and by 990s, but I won’t be covering those here. (Come to my class to learn more about those!)

To begin crafting your search, fill in a Field of Interest. Choose your terms from the alphabetical index that appears in the left pane when you click the blue “View Index” link under the Field of Interest search box.  You can enter more than one FIeld of Interest, and they will be automatically connected in the search box with an “Or.”

{ An aside … Leaving that “Or” as the connector will capture funders who list either terms as a field of interest.  If you want funders that list all the fields of interest you’ve chosen, you’ll have to delete each “Or” and replace it with an “And.”  This is called Boolean searching. }

To make choosing a suitable field of Interest easier, read through the 10 page, alphabetical print out of Field of Interest terms contained in the white “Tips for Searching” notebook that lives on the grant computer’s desk.  When it comes to Field of Interest, think in broad terms.  Cast the widest net to capture the most potential funders.

Next, fill in your Geographic Focus box. Geographic Focus refers to where the money will be used, which, in our case, is most likely Pennsylvania.  Also, be sure to add National to the Geographic Focus box too, because some funders don’t care what state their money goes to, as long as it stays here in the United States.  And you should leave the “or” in there.

Click Search, and … drumroll please … take a look at your list of results. If you have a disappointing number of grantmaker profiles returned to you as potential matches, go back to your search screen and widen your search.  Try leaving some search term fields blank, or broaden the fields of interest terms.

Once you have an exciting yet manageable list of results, begin researching the funders by clicking on their names to open up their profile.  The first thing you’ll want to look at is Limitations. The limitations will tell you straight-up who the foundation will not give money to, and sometimes also the limits on the types of support they will give.  If you fit into any of these limitations, move on to the next funder. Don’t waste your precious time or the funder’s precious time trying to convince them that they should make an exception on their limitations for you, because they shouldn’t and they won’t.

Move on and read about the foundation’s Purpose and Activities.  The Purpose and Activites section is kind of like the foundation’s mission statement. Sometimes it will be long and broken down with subheadings, or programs; other times it will be a single sentence.  This is where you try to find a contact point between your organization and the foundation’s mission.  (More on contact points in another post, I promise.)

Finally, move on the the Selected Grants list at the very bottom of the profile.  Has the foundation given money to organzations like your in the past? Learn more about grants they’ve given by clicking on the “Grants” tab at the top of some profiles.  Here you can access a list of all the grants the Foundation Cetner has on recent record for that foundation.  Compare the grants given to what sorts of projects the foundation says it will fund.  Are there any discrepencies that could work to your advantage?

By the end of your search, you will hopefully have a list of 3 to 5 funders to explore in more detail, and, ultimately, a few to whom you can apply!