In the early 1980s, I was a reasonably successful grant writer, but to say the professional landscape has changed since then would be an understatement. In my possibly inaccurate recollection, the Foundation Directory was a benign organization that maintained physical libraries where you could go do research for free.
Of course, the entire model for grant seekers’ research changed with the internet. Now that I’m volunteering with a nonprofit arts and cultural organization in East Hawaii, I was looking forward to engaging with Foundation Directory Online, but so far I have been deeply disappointed. FDO has been bought up by what appears to be a very sales-oriented company called Candid. I signed up for a free webinar and was put off by the “sales pitch” approach. Sure, I know that clearinghouses for foundations need money to operate too, but the way things are now reminds me of headhunters who take money from job seekers instead of companies looking for employees: in other words, there is a faint air of sleaziness to it. To sign up for their information, we’d have to pay hundreds of dollars up front. We are barely getting by as it is, and I have no way of judging the crucial question of whether we’d get a decent return on our investment if we signed up.
I’ve also just come across Guidestar, which is owned by the same people, though at least they do have some minimal information available for free.
What say you, Dopers in the non-profit world? Do you subscribe to FDO and/or Guidestar? Do you recommend it?
BTW, I know FDO maintains libraries, but the one nearest to us is a plane ride to Honolulu away - maybe not a bad idea in non-pandemic times, since the travel costs would probably be less than the price of an FDO subscription, but not now.