Philanthropy Resources

Foundations: who they are, and where to find them

Council on Foundations the professional association of community, corporate, family, and private foundations across North America (and some other places, too). Not every foundation belongs, but most do. CoF will direct you to most of the conversations foundations are having among themselves these days, but a lot of the website is limited to members.

Foundation Center maintains the most extensive database (other than the IRS) of foundations of all types in the United States. It maintains a comprehensive search engine on this website. It expects some money for some of its services. Why not? If you’re a serious grantseeker, this is the place to start. It also still publishes the Foundation Directory, in size and density the Oxford English Dictionary of the philanthropic world: two huge volumes of more than 10,000 foundations. The Center also publishes other heavy tomes: the Corporate 500, the Corporate Giving Directory, and the Guide to U.S. Foundations, Their Trustees, Officers, and Donors, and Philanthropy News Digest. Also distributes the online free Philanthropy News Digest. Check it out.

Guidestar is the ultimate datasource about nonprofits, but since most foundations are nonprofits, too, this is a good location to find out the nitty gritty. With free registration, you can access Form 990s, the special tax form nonprofits must file if they have revenue over $25,000. Full of good information. You can also buy more expensive access, but I’ve never needed it. You can also subscribe to a cool online newsletter.

National Center for Family Philanthropy provides lots of handholding and an impressive range of publications to families who give. There are no shortage of issues.

News, philosophy, research, and statistics

Chronicle of Philanthropy rightfully bills itself as the newspaper of the nonprofit world. It covers virtually all the issues (including the warts) of the philanthropic sector on a biweekly basis. We like the paper version, but the website is pretty impressive, with a searchable database, but it’s only available to print subscribers.

Conscience and Community: The Legacy of Paul Ylvisaker. Peter Lang Publishers, New York. A collection of thoughts by one of philanthropy’s key thinkers, a Bible to people in the Foundation world.

GOOD Magazine, which published its inaugural issue in September 2006, states, “Our mission is to stimulate the culture of good by creating dialogue around things that matter.”

National Center for Charitable Statistics is the self-described national repository of data on the nonprofit sector in the United States. A component of the Center on Nonprofits & Philanthropy, it has worked closely with the IRS and other government agencies, the private sector, and universities to report on the activities of charitable organizations.

National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy works "to make philanthropy more responsive to people with the least wealth and opportunity, more relevant to critical public needs, and more open and accountable to all, in order to create a more just and democratic society." Includes information on advocacy, NCRP projects, and publications. NCRP has a real bias towards human services giving; in fact it can be downright contemptuous of foundations that give to anything else. That’s why much of its stuff is a fascinating read.

NonProfit Times Online features the online version of a major news and information resources on the nonprofit sector. is the mothership of the Center of Philanthropy and Civil Society, housed at the City University of New York. The site maintains an impressive database of publications, digital texts, and websites, and is a great location for research on issues in multicultural philanthropy.

Philanthropy News Digest is a rich and continually updated summary of current news in all sectors of philanthropy.

Philanthropy, a publication of The Philanthropy Roundtable, is a stylish on-line publication that makes you want to sit in on the meetings of the Roundtable, which happen across the country.

Giving wisely: conducting your due diligence

With an unprecedented $10 trillion expected to pass between generations in the next 20 years, the Inheritance Project explores the emotional and social impact of inherited wealth. We also like the related book Robin Hood was Right: A Guide to Giving Your Money for Social Change, by Chuck Collins et al (W.W. Norton & Co., 2000)

American Institute of Philanthropy functions as a nonprofit charity watchdog and information service to maximize the effectiveness of every dollar given to charity. The site provides donors with an as-yet limited directory to nationwide charitable organizations, with some very basic information on giving carefully.

BBB Wise Giving Alliance was formed in 2001 with the merger of the National Charities Information Bureau and the Council of Better Business Bureaus Foundation and its Philanthropic Advisory Service.

Better Business Bureau, that venerable institution that monitors complaints about business practices, also has a section devoted to philanthropy.

GuideStar is the searchable database of extensive financial information on most of the nation’s nonprofit organizations. Find a specific charity by name, or by subject, state, zipcode, or other criteria. Determine what it spends on fundraising and administration, who sits on its board of directors, etc., by looking at Form 990s.

"Incredible philanthropy blogs"

The now-defunct published a list of 100 surprisingly secular (given its name) philanthropy blogs back in 2009. Alas, I didn't make a full copy for myself, and only listed the first 11 on my site, and 7 of those have gone the way of the dodo.

Here's your challenge, and I truly hope you take me up on it. Send me the philanthropy (not nonprofit) blogs you follow (or even write). I'll take a look and if I think my vast (ha ha) viewership would benefit, I'll post them here and in an eblast. Just send your recommendations to

In any event, here are the only four survivors (out of 11) from 2009:

And here's one suggested by the leaders in websites for community foundations,

Different types of grantmakers: where they hang out

Council on Foundations is the 50+-year-old membership association of grantmaking foundations and corporations. Not every one of the gazillion foundations in the U.S. belongs to CoF; membership dues aren't cheap. But it's the gold standard, and even the public part of the website (the private part is for members only) gives you a ton of information.

Funding Exchange, I'm sorry to hear, has closed shop. In its heyday, it was the meetingplace for 16 regional ‘social change’ funders, like the groundbreaking Haymarket People’s Fund in Boston, where I spent many happy hours. The organizations, all of which still exist, as far as I know, are expert at finding the grassroots organizations that are never on the radar screen of ‘establishment’ foundations. FEX was responsible for the book Robin Hood was Right: A Guide to Giving Your Money for Social Change, by Chuck Collins et al (W.W. Norton & Co., 2000). I'm pleased to have a credit in the book. FEX's website is still up and worth viewing, especially to link to the 16 affiliates. Just do it now.

Funders for LGBTQ Issues. This is a champion website for anyone or any organization looking for grant opportunities, research, networking, or the latest news in the LGBTQ funding (and other) community.

Grantmakers in the Arts is a nonprofit membership organization comprised of private foundations, family foundations, community foundations, corporate foundations, corporate giving programs, and nonprofit organizations that make arts grants. GIA welcomes public sector grantmakers as affiliate members. More than 850 individuals - both trustee and staff - participate in GIA, representing more than 250 organizations.

Grantmakers In Health is a nonprofit, educational organization dedicated to helping foundations and corporate giving programs improve the nation's health. Its mission is to foster communication and collaboration among grantmakers and others, and to help strengthen the grantmaking community's knowledge, skills, and effectiveness. Formally launched in 1982, GIH is known today as the professional home for health grantmakers, and a resource for grantmakers and others seeking expertise and information on the field of health philanthropy.

Hispanics in Philanthropy’s mission is to serve as a catalyst to increase resources for the Latino and Latin American civil sector, as well as to increase Latino participation and leadership throughout philanthropy. Its work is designed to contribute to the greater effectiveness of philanthropy and to greater equity and diversity. HIP's vision of the future reflects the organization’s diverse origins and projects a model of philanthropy that is congruent with the increasingly diverse global community in which we live.

Independent Sector is a membership organization that brings together foundations, nonprofit groups, and corporate giving programs to support philanthropy, volunteering and citizen action. IS has turned out to be a lobbying powerhouse, releasing multiple reports and recommendations to Congressional hearings on foundations and the nonprofit sector.

Neighborhood Funders Group is a national network of foundations and philanthropic organizations. Its members support community-based efforts that improve economic and social conditions in low-income communities. NFG provides information, learning opportunities, critical thinking and other professional development activities to its members.

Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers. Most regions of the country have formal or informal associations of the grantmaking organizations in their midst. They huddle together to make a deeper impact on their communities or just to share information. Some employ universal grant applications to make it easier for nonprofits. This site directs you to the RAG (what a horrible name) in your area.

United Way of America. Need we say more?

Women’s Funding Network is an international association of public and private women’s foundations, federations, funds in community foundations, individual donors and supporting institutions, with an impressive set of links to their allies. An increasing number of communities (city or state-based) have ‘women’s funds’ now.

Coursework in philanthropy: get a degree in giving

City University of New York: Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society,
The Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, Room 5401, New York 10016-4309

Duke University: Center for the Study of Philanthropy and Voluntarism,
Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, Duke University, P.O. Box 90249, Durham, NC 27708-0249

Grand Valley State University: Johnson Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership,
25 Commerce Ave., SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Harvard University: Hauser Center for Nonprofit Institutions,
John F. Kennedy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

Indiana University/Purdue University: Center on Philanthropy,
550 West North Street, Suite 301, Indianapolis, IN 46202. In addition to information about the school, sells essays on general issues in philanthropy

New York University School of Law: Program on Philanthropy & Law,
110 West 3rd Street, 2nd floor, New York 10012

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota: Master of Arts, Philanthropy & Development,
700 Terrace Heights, Winona, MN 55987

Introducing children and young people to giving

Getting people involved in philanthropy at a younger age, with a focus on teaching children and young people to live responsibly with wealth, has become a hot issue, especially among adults who were not raised with wealth themselves. Following are possible resources on the topic, including some classics:


Abiyoyo, by Pete Seeger (Macmillan, 1986)
The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein (Harpercollins Children’s Books, 1970)
Kids’ Random Acts of Kindness, by Dawna Markova (Canari Press, 1994)
The Legend of Blue Bonnet, by Tomie de Paola (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1981)
The Lion and the Mouse; several versions available of this Aesop's fable
Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney (Scholastic, 1985)
The Rainbow Fish, by Marcus Pfister (North-South Books, 1992)
Stone Soup; several illustrated versions available
Swimmy, by Leo Lionni (Scholastic, 1963)
Thidwick: The Big-Hearted Moose, by Dr. Seuss (Random House, 1948)


Community Partnerships with Youth (

Inheritance Project (

Kids Care Clubs (

National Center for Family Philanthropy (

Points of Light Foundation (

Youth on Board (

Youth in Philanthropy (

Finding jobs in philanthropy & with nonprofits

Chronicle of Philanthropy. I hope your local library keeps the print edition of this Variety-like publication of all things philanthropic; it's a great read. Great want ad section; jobs are mostly for fundraisers.

Council on Foundations. As noted in "Foundations" above, the Council is the mother ship for many of the most prestigious private, corporate, and community foundations in the United States. Lots of them post jobs here.

Foundation Center. Another 'go to' place listed under "Foundations", the Center has a healthy list of jobs and will point you to background information on the organization so you can conduct your due diligence first.

Idealist. One of the places you HAVE to go anymore.

Nonprofit Career Network. I don't really know about them. Tell me your experience.

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