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Utilizing Your Public Library for Grant Research

libraryI was recently charged with the task of putting together some grant recommendations for a small nonprofit organization in North Idaho. Being a fan of all things related to Internet research, I began to dig in.
By experimenting with a variety of keywords, I was able to pull up some good information via the search engines. I was feeling pretty good about what I found, but I still wanted to take a trip to the library to look through some of their resources.

Our library (and likely yours, too) has an entire section devoted to finding funding sources, and while it can be a little overwhelming to sit down with some of those tomes with nothing but a few ideas and an index for cross-referencing your potential areas of interest, I generally find that one idea leads nicely into the next, and by the end of it all, I have several new prospective grantmakers to consider.

While this is nice in and of itself, the real coup de gras is the library’s access to various databases. Many small nonprofits can’t afford a subscription to the Foundation Directory Online database, for example, but the information in there is so valuable. This particular database allows you to search more than 78,000 funding sources using a variety of useful criteria. My local library system only has it available on specific computers in one branch, but by making some time in my grant research schedule, I was able to take advantage of a resource that provided me with several additional opportunities to consider for my client.

Your library may have all kinds of hidden resources that you didn’t even realize were available. For example, I found that mine also has:

  • Foundation Grants to Individuals (database)
  • Philanthropy In/Sight (mapping tool tracking philanthropy)
  • Funding Center (collection of grant and nonprofit management resources)
It’s also possible that your library has a staff member who is well-versed in local and not-so-local grant resources. When working on a different project, the reference librarian had me set up a meeting with their fundraising expert, and he was able to get me off and running in the right direction rather than spending additional time and effort just figuring out where to begin looking for opportunities for that particular client.

Keep your local public library in mind when it comes to grant research, and you may find that a combination of old-school and new-school techniques can provide the most resources.

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