Announcing Foundation Center and GuideStar had joined forces was just the beginning—now the real work of being Candid has started. We're busy combining operations on a number of fronts, and starting up new and exciting projects, too. I mentioned one of our most important initiatives in a previous post: the transition from our four regional library centers to our 400+ Funding Information Network (FIN) partner locations. We've received some thoughtful questions about what this evolution might mean for you.
What's happening to Candid's libraries?
We're not changing whom we serve, we're changing how we serve.
We've been around a long time, and over the years we've heard feedback from people who have struggled with our metro locations in terms of accessibility, hours, and parking fees and availability. Our current footprint of library locations in specific metro areas also locks our teams in to commitments behind the desk. Plus, now that we've become Candid, we have two offices in both the San Francisco Bay Area and Washington, D.C.
By the end of 2019, our Bay Area and Washington, D.C., offices will have been combined so that we have one office each in Oakland and D.C., while our Atlanta and Cleveland teams will be operating out of co-working or partner sites. We will no longer provide in-person library services at these locations, but you will still be able to get all of your questions answered through in-person trainings with our partner network and online services (more on this below).
Our largest office and library in New York will continue to operate in its full current form (still providing library services and trainings). We'll also begin experimenting with local programming close to Williamsburg, Virginia, where a large contingency of Candid team members are based.
How will these changes affect my local nonprofit community?
We're focused on continued and increased engagement in your community. Candid's mission continues to be to connect people who want to change the world to the resources they need to do it—research, collaboration, and training are the ways we accomplish that mission.
Our transition away from providing direct in-person library services at our own offices will free up our teams to interact directly with audiences beyond our own four walls. Taking our D.C. metro area location as an example: three of our FIN partners are within a 10-mile radius of our current location, and all three are Metro accessible. Our D.C. team plans to offer three to five classes per month at local partners and other locations, and they also plan on holding monthly training events at the University of the District of Columbia.
What does the Funding Information Network do?
Over more than 60 years, we've built up our Funding Information Network, which is made up of more than 400 partner locations across the U.S. and around the world. In 2018, 24 new partners joined the network, and visitors at our partner sites executed more than half a million searches on Candid databases.
These public libraries, universities, and resource centers will continue to offer access to Candid databases on-site, free to the public. They also host our low- or no-cost fundraising trainings, including advanced courses such as our Proposal Writing Boot Camp.
In 2018, our partner locations led 166 trainings. In addition to these programs, our own Candid staff hosted 80 programs at partner locations that were attended by more than 1,500 people. And next year, thanks to the transition away from our own four library centers, Candid staff will be able to offer even more programs at these locations. You can find the current training schedule at our GrantSpace calendar.
How do network partners support local nonprofits?
The first way is through access to, and on-site assistance with, Candid databases like Foundation Directory Online. One of our partner locations in Michigan told us, "It is wonderful to have this resource and the teaching tools at our disposal. People come into our library looking for information on how to write or search for grants all the time. Being able to point them to GrantSpace or schedule an orientation to the database helps our community."
Network partners undergo Candid certification each year to become experts at navigating our databases and other resources. In addition, Candid offers a substantial amount of training to our partners, including a deep dive into what Candid is and what changes they can expect. More than 98 percent of our Funding Information Network partners meet, if not exceed, the partnership standards we've set out.
We track these standards each year, and we are constantly seeking new ways to ensure that our partners have access to and are provided training on Candid resources. Our regional staff works directly with our partners and hosts monthly and quarterly calls to continue building their capacity to serve your needs on the ground. In addition, we host annual conferences and training sessions with our FIN partners to keep them up to date and prepared to assist you.
The second way our partners support local nonprofits is through trainings. A partner from Ohio said, "The first class I ever taught resulted in an individual writing a letter of introduction to a foundation not accepting applications, getting asked to apply, and receiving a $50,000 grant. I just spoke to a frequent database user who has almost solidified a $500,000 grant for her nonprofit which works to bring military personnel back from overseas."
One of our partners in Arkansas shared, "Last year, a person was at our location quite frequently for most of the year. Now that person has succeeded in establishing a new enterprise locally that assists homeless LGBTQ young adults in Central Arkansas."
Another partner, from Georgia, said, "[Being a Funding Information Network partner] enables us to meet our strategic goals of building the community and partnering with other organizations to bring needed programs and resources to the community. The classes we offer have led to partnerships with nonprofits."
What if I can't get to a partner location?
You can connect with us online, anywhere, anytime. We have developed robust direct online reference services at grantspace.org, where you can get customized help from a real Candid staffer who has the expertise to help with any of your fundraising or nonprofit questions. In 2018, our Online Librarian service addressed more than 135,000 questions. Engaging with us via our online reference service is free, and even easier than a visit—you don't need to find parking to ask us your quick or in-depth questions.
Grantspace.org also continues to be a comprehensive online learning site, with access to thousands of knowledge resources/tools, blogs, videos, and, of course, a vast calendar of in-person, live-online, and on-demand training programs available at your fingertips. In 2018, we delivered 116 webinars and self-paced elearning courses to nearly 20,000 participants.
We also continue to build out our eBooks collection, ensuring anytime, anywhere access to our online collection of information resources. An average of one hundred users a month are taking advantage of this free service.
Whom can I contact if I have more questions?
Please don't hesitate to reach out to any of our team members with questions or ideas:
We are thrilled for the opportunity this new operating model presents Candid and are very excited to meet with more of you across the U.S. As always, you can connect with me directly to talk about how we can serve you better.
This post is reprinted from PhilanTopic.
Zohra Zori is vice president for social sector outreach at Candid.