Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I’m interested in making a donation to, partnering with, or “vetting” a nonprofit organization. How do I go about doing this type of research?
A: If you are concerned about the organization and want to do your due diligence, there are a few options available to you:
- Check out Charity Navigator or Guidestar to look at the organization’s 990 documents and related financial information.
- Take a look at the organization’s webpage for information about their activities, board, staff, and community affiliations.
- Talk to other people who may be involved with the organization. Board members, staff, and other donors are likely to be familiar with the nonprofit and can provide information to help guide your decision.
Q: My organization has placed me in charge of fundraising. How do I learn more about raising money for my nonprofit?
A: Whether you are a CEO, board member, staff member, or volunteer at a nonprofit, you may very likely find yourself involved in fundraising for your organization. To learn more about fundraising, check out some of the following resources:
- The Association of Fundraising Professionals has local chapters across the United States, which provide in-person trainings, networking opportunities, and other resources. To find your local chapter, visit: https://www.afpnet.org/audiences/chapters.cfm?navItemNumber=510. The national association also provides webinars, professional development, and publications at: https://www.afpnet.org.
- Visit the National Council of Nonprofit’s webpage (https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/find-your-state-association) to find your state’s nonprofit association. State-based associations are an excellent resource for more information about fundraising and other topics of interest to manage and maintain your organization.
- Check out the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy (https://philanthropy.iupui.edu/index.html). Their website includes information about trainings offered through The Fund Raising School that occur online or in-person at locations across the country. In addition, they provide links to research and programs on giving, philanthropy, and fundraising that may be of interest to you and your organization.
- Talk to other nonprofits and fundraising professionals locally. They may have other suggestions of resources, experts, and learning opportunities that are unique to your community.
- Check out the list of websites under the “Nonprofits” section on our Resources page for more information.
Q: I am new to the world of grantwriting. Where do I go to learn about grants and foundations?
A: There are a few places where you can find out more about grants that may apply to your nonprofit:
- To learn more about grants that may be relevant to your nonprofit, take a look at Foundation Directory Online, available at: https://fconline.foundationcenter.org/.
- The Foundation Center has resources and learning opportunities across the country. Visit http://foundationcenter.org/ask-us/find-us to locate a Funding Information Network site near you, which may be as close as your local or regional library, university, or other public resource facility. These locations have access to the Foundation Directory, Foundation Center publications, and other resources that may assist you in carrying out your fundraising, grantwriting, and nonprofit work.
- For staff and volunteers who find themselves needing more information about grantwriting, Grantspace (http://grantspace.org) is an easy and accessible resource that answers many frequently asked questions in the field.
- Check out the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University (http://johnsoncenter.org/). The Johnson Center provides workshops, programs, and publications to nonprofits, foundations, and donors on a wide variety of useful topics.
- Talk to your local community foundation, as there may be particular funds that apply to your local area and the nonprofits that serve your community.
- Community foundations, associations of nonprofit organizations (geographic or thematic), governmental agencies, and other organizations also regularly provide additional information about funding and partnership opportunities that may be of interest to your nonprofit.
Q: How do I find more information about management practices (finance, law, fundraising, etc.) in the philanthropic sector?
A: There are quite a few resources that are available online or in your local area.
- Foundation Center has a fairly comprehensive catalog of materials related to the sector. Their Catalog of Nonprofit Literature can be accessed online at: http://catalog.foundationcenter.org/.
- The Foundation Center, through a partnership with OverDrive, recently started making available e-book versions of many nonprofit management books. These books can be checked out for a 2-week period. Sign-up is easy and a full listing of books is available at: https://foundationcenter.overdrive.com/
- Visit your local library or college/university to access books on topics of interest to you. Interlibrary loan is available in many areas, which allows you to check out books from beyond your local library’s collection.
- Check out the Resources page. We have multiple categories, including an entire section of websites and reports related to nonprofits, foundations, and philanthropy.
Q: Where can I find information about starting a nonprofit or foundation?
A: There are a variety of websites, books, and other resources that describe what is involved with starting a nonprofit, foundation, or other organization. The exact process may vary by state, so contact your state’s nonprofit association or foundation/philanthropy association for more information that is specific to your situation. Consulting with legal counsel who are familiar with charities and/or foundations is an important step of the process.
- The National Council of Nonprofits has a general step-by-step description of what is involved with starting a nonprofit organization. Follow the links, starting at: https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/tools-resources/how-start-nonprofit-step-1-research.
- GrantSpace has a great Knowledge Base article on how to start a nonprofit, with many useful links, available at: http://grantspace.org/tools/knowledge-base/nonprofit-management/establishment/starting-a-nonprofit.
- Nonprofit Startup Resources are also available, searchable by state, at: http://grantspace.org/tools/nonprofit-startup-resources-by-state.
- The Council on Foundations has valuable information on starting a foundation, available at: https://www.cof.org/content/starting-a-foundation.
- In the state of Michigan, those interested in creating a nonprofit should contact the Michigan Nonprofit Association (https://www.mnaonline.org/). For those interested in establishing a foundation, creating a fund, or exploring their philanthropic options should contact the Council of Michigan Foundations (https://www.michiganfoundations.org/resources/giving-options).
Q: I have always wanted to work in the nonprofit sector. Where can I find job postings for these positions?
A: Check out the list of websites under the “Job Listings – Nonprofit Sector and Philanthropic Organizations” category on our Resources page. These webpages include job postings, as well as some volunteer and board opportunities that may be of interest.
For those interested in making a career change to the nonprofit sector, the Michigan Nonprofit Association has also published “An Introduction to Working in Michigan’s Nonprofit Sector.” It is available for purchase on their website at: https://mnaonline.org/research-publications.