A few days ago, my bank statement showed me that I’ve been making two recurring donations each month to the exact same social justice organization. With so much happening in the world, so many crises to defuse, and so many causes to support, I hadn’t even realized I’d set up these duplicate contributions.
I’m guessing I’m not the only one feeling a bit disorganized these days. We have resources (be they money, time, or skills) to contribute to the issues we care about. We know we want to help. Maybe we start with a Google search, or browsing through Facebook. Perhaps we find what we’re looking for, but chances are we wind up easily overwhelmed. We keep coming back to the same question: where do I begin? At your local Funding Information Network (FIN) location, you can start getting some answers.
Who is already doing the work? One of the first steps to taking action, is to understand who is already working on the issues. At your local FIN, you can use Foundation Directory Online (FDO) to filter by issue area, and research funders and the nonprofit organizations they have supported, as well as details about the grant projects. You might be familiar with FDO as an application that helps organizations identify funding opportunities, but it’s also a very useful tool for understanding the ecosystem and key players working around a certain issue area in your geographic region.
Once you have narrowed in on the key players doing the work, you can start to focus and deepen your research to understand the best ways to get involved. Consider making a top five list of organizations you want to support. From there, you can use more online tools like GuideStar search to confirm if these nonprofits are committed to transparency, especially if they have a Seal of Transparency assigned to their profile. Knowing a nonprofit is upfront about its finances can help as you decide to make a donation, or even other contributions like volunteering your time.
I’m not super comfortable doing this sort of research. Can I get some help? We ask that all of our FIN locations have at minimum one staff person that is certified in our FDO Expert and FDO Trainer certification programs. This means the lead staff person at each FIN has been prepared to help you with your search, so you can make the best use of your time during your visit.
When you click on a location on the Find Us map here, you’ll see a special link for each specific FIN. This link should provide some more details on where and how you can access Candid’s resources at that FIN and can also connect you directly with the staff person that can best assist you.
Beyond providing support using Candid’s applications and online tools, the staff leads at our local FINs have their own wealth of local knowledge. As librarians and nonprofit professionals, they are natural connectors and may know exactly who you need to be connected with at another local organization that is doing grassroots work right in the community you care about. That sort of in-person connection might be just as meaningful, impactful, and gratifying as clicking that online donation button.
Here’s where you can find your closest FIN.
This post is reprinted from the GrantSpace Blog.
Kate Tkacik is director of network engagement at Candid.