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15 Tips for 15 Years, Part 3

Number "15" candles

This post first appeared in Foundation Center's Eye on FDO blog.

We’re celebrating the 15th anniversary of Foundation Directory Online (FDO) by offering 15 insider tips, secrets, favorite searches, and other hints to help you get the most out of FDO. We’re counting down from 15 to 1. See our previous posts for tips 15-11 and 10-6

5. Use tags to create a prospect list

If you've got a list of grants that seem promising, or you ran a grantmaker search that produced good results, you can make a prospect list and organize your prospects within FDO using tags. Use the Record Tags box to create a tag that's easy to remember and relevant to your search. For example, if you're conducting a capital campaign, you can create a "Capital" tag that you assign to each of your prospects in this category. Then, when you go into My FDO and click on the Capital tag, it will display all the prospects for your capital campaign and give you quick access to these profiles.

4. Filter your search to see only funders that accept unsolicited proposals

Save time and effort by checking the "Exclude grantmakers not accepting applications" box on the Search Grantmakers screen. But before you do that, keep in mind that doing so might exclude some funders that are still potential prospects. First, check out this GrantSpace article on when and how to approach those funders. Then, when conducting your searches, try searching the whole field of funders matching your criteria (leaving that checkbox unchecked). On your results list, you'll see the number of grantmakers that do and do not accept applications in the Narrow Your Results box on the left, so you'll know at a glance how many funders you can apply to directly and how many may require a different approach. 

3. Turn an exported spreadsheet into a grants calendar/mini-CRM tool

Whether you have a list of grantmakers from a tag that you created (see tip 5) or from a grantmaker search, check off the foundations that you are interested in as prospects and click "Export List" to save them in a spreadsheet. Once the list is downloaded, you can open it in Google Sheets, Excel, or another spreadsheet application and start personalizing it with your own content -- create columns for application deadlines, notes, last contact, next steps, etc. -- to use it as a “mini-CRM (customer relationship management)” tool.

2. Visualize grant data on maps and charts

Use the Chart Grants tool in a foundation's profile to get a better understanding of its giving priorities. FDO Professional subscribers can see a funder’s grants organized by recipient type or primary subject, including aggregate totals of dollars awarded, number of grants, and number of recipients, and then filter by year(s) awarded or drill down to more specific subject/recipient-type categories. 

The Map Grants tool offers the same functionality and access to aggregate totals, but organized geographically. Start on a U.S. map, filter by year or recipient type/subject, and then view by state. You can organize the state-level view by city, county, ZIP code, or congressional district.

1. Let us help!

Foundation Center supports your use of FDO in many ways. The customer service team is on call to help with billing and account questions and can direct you to the right place if you need additional information. The Online Librarian service is available by email or live chat to assist with FDO search strategies, answer questions about philanthropy, and point you to resources that will help you with your grantseeking. Finally, Foundation Center free and fee-based training supports your FDO experience with classes on finding funders, planning fundraising, developing your proposal, and nonprofit management.

What FDO search strategies have worked for you? Please share them in the Comments area!

Not an FDO subscriber? Now’s a great time to get on board so you can use these tips. Until January 31, new monthly subscribers can buy 3 months and get 1 additional month free! Plus, you’ll get a free FDO training webinar valued at $69. Select “Special Offer” at checkout.

-- George Ford 

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