Why Crossing the Country for the Funding Information Network Was Totally Worth It

Kate Tkacik (left) and Sean Tibbitts

Kate Tkacik (left) and Sean Tibbitts at Salt Lake City (UT) Public Library, a Funding Information Network member

It’s been just over a week since I arrived in New York City and started working from our stunning new space at 32 Old Slip. I relocated to NYC from San Francisco, via cross-country road trip, in order to take on a brand new role at Foundation Center as manager of our Funding Information Network.

I spent five of my eight days of travel visiting Funding Information Network partners along the way. I stopped at five locations in four states: Salt Lake City Public Library, Denver Public Library, Lawrence Public Library (KS), Central Illinois Nonprofit Resource Center at the University of Illinois-Springfield, and Donors Forum in Chicago. And was it worth the trip? Absolutely. Why? Because I had the chance to see the Funding Information Network in action. The network brings Foundation Center’s mission to life on a daily basis in communities across the country (and around the world!).

Considering you're likely learning about this network for the first time, let's answer a few basic questions you might have.

What exactly is this “Funding Information Network”?

Foundation Center’s Funding Information Network is an extensive network of 450+ community-centric locations that provide access to Foundation Center’s social sector, grantseeking, and philanthropic resources at no cost to visitors. Network sites are open to the public and supported by the organization itself or by local funders.

Why should I run (not walk) to my closest Funding Information Network site?

Have you wanted access to Foundation Directory Online? Are you eager to peruse The Grantseeker's Guide to Winning Proposals? Feeling ready for basic training on finding grants or need some one-on-one support for an upcoming proposal? Would you just like to feel like you aren't completely alone in your nonprofit mission?

All of the above may be possible at your local Funding Information Network site. You'll be able to access Foundation Center databases, books, and basic training. Importantly, you may have the chance to network with other local nonprofit professionals and perhaps even local funders and philanthropists. You're definitely encouraged to take advantage of all training and special events as a prime time to develop your nonprofit network.

Wait, someone's going to actually help me once I get there? 

Each stop on my road trip was a happy revelation: Our network leadership is incredibly deep. At each location, a network supervisor takes charge of assisting local social sector professionals with grants research and training. Many of our supervisors are dynamic community leaders — nonprofit professionals, business librarians, even tenured professors.

Of course, support doesn't stop with the supervisor and in-person staff. If you're ever at one of our locations and need quick help, you can always reach out to Foundation Center directly via Ask Us. One of our online librarians or customer engagement specialists will be on hand to support you via chat or email.

But I can't find a Funding Information Network site near me.

Good news: Our network is ever-expanding. Give us a referral! Think about your community: Is there an organization with open public hours, Internet access, and the ability to support social sector development? Let us know! You might be the key to creating our next network partner.

Also remember that some libraries subscribe to Foundation Directory Online to have it in their own database collections, so even if you don't see a Funding Information Network location near you, search your local library's catalog for Foundation Center resources or ask them directly about it.

So, yes, the Funding Information Network is worth a road trip. Many times over. I look forward to continuing to share what our network is up to and how it is positively impacting the social sector.

Visit Foundation Center's website to learn more about the Funding Information Network. It's also exciting to note that we are also expanding on an international scale. You can find our network presence in 10 countries around the world, and counting.

If you have specific questions about the network, you can also email us, and we'd be happy to give you answers. If you want to keep following the Funding Information Network story and see where the next road trip takes us, check out our Instagram.

Kate Tkacik

KATE TKACIK is manager of the Funding Information Network at Foundation Center. Kate provides leadership on the strategic engagement and growth of this network of 450+ domestic and international partners. Find her online at thelifeguardlibrarian.tumblr.com and @lifegdlibrarian on Twitter.