The Library celebrates 40 years and counting of helping nonprofits get the funding they need

Written by Kent Mulcahy, Reference Librarian, Downtown Main Library

2019 marks forty years of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County serving as a Funding Information Network partner for Cincinnati and the surrounding region. What exactly does that mean? In a nutshell, it means that for four decades, nonprofits in the Tri-state area have been turning to the Library for access to the best resources for researching potential funding through grants, as well as free in-person classes and one-on-one assistance with funder research. 

To best explain what being a “Funding Information Network partner” actually means, an introduction to Candid., opens a new window is in order. Candid. is itself a nonprofit organization whose philanthropic mission is educational. When an organization such as the Library partners with Candid., it means they’re committed to not only providing Candid.’s industry-standard grant research tools to their community, but they’re also guaranteed to have trained individuals onsite prepared to answer questions for both the new and the experienced grant opportunity researcher. 

Looking for an easy-to-use and reputable resource for researching potential funding partners for your nonprofit? We’ve got you covered with the Foundation Directory Online. The Foundation Directory Online, opens a new window is a database that lets nonprofits easily find and research foundations that are interested in their particular philanthropic mission, but even more importantly, have a history of awarding grants to similar nonprofits. All you have to do is answer three questions: what do you do, where do you do it, and who do you do it for?

With that, the database does the rest and in the process saves you time from writing and sending grant proposals to funders who have absolutely zero interest in your mission. Access to the Foundation Directory Online is limited to onsite use at the Downtown Main Branch. Computers are set aside for grant research (and newspaper microfilm, patents and trademarks, small business, and other general research needs) in the Information and Reference Department, located on the South Building’s second floor. A Library card isn’t required to get access to the Foundation Directory Online. Simply ask any Information and Reference Department staff member to log you on to a grants research computer. 

For those interested in using the Foundation Directory Online, but nervous about learning to use such a powerful and deep resource, fear not! Each month, a free in-person, hands-on class is held at the Downtown Main Library which covers the most important features of the database, and how to best harness them for your unique funding needs. This offering is called “Grants Research Lab,” and it’s not the Library’s only monthly offering for nonprofit organizations. Each month two additional free classes, “Introduction to Finding Grants” and “Introduction to Proposal Writing,” are also hosted. For more information on the classes and when they’ll occur, visit our Grants Research Center page, opens a new window. There, you’ll find a link to an online program calendar, opens a new window of strictly grant and nonprofit related events.

"The Library’s grant classes bridge the gap between 'accessible' and 'manageable," said ArtWorks Development Director Daniel Tonozzi. "They make the difference between being someone who is eager to help and being a practicing professional who can effectively navigate information and opportunities. I have a folder in my inbox in which I store all the foundation profiles that I email to myself.  The Foundation Directory database is like a treasure map.  Everyone knows the funding is out there, but where is it?  How do I find it?  The database helps navigate these murky waters."  

Thinking about starting your own nonprofit? NOLO’s guide to Starting and Building a Nonprofit, opens a new window might be of interest to you. Are you looking for a well-organized and approachable introduction to writing a grant proposal? Look no further than Grant Writing for Dummies, opens a new window. If you’re wanting an easy to use list of Cincinnati area foundations and the kinds of nonprofit organizations they support, you’ll definitely want to place a hold on The Cincinnati Area Foundation Directory, opens a new window.

If you’d like to know more about the Library's classes for nonprofit grant seekers, the Foundation Directory Online, or have general questions about additional resources to help you research foundation funding for your nonprofit, feel free to reach out to our Grants Resource Librarian, Kent Mulcahy, opens a new window. Aside from teaching classes, he’s always available to help you narrow down the best resources out there to help your nonprofit get the funding it needs. Additionally, he can also help undergraduate scholarship seekers use the Testing and Education Reference Center, opens a new window to pinpoint the best financial aid opportunities.