Whether you’re starting a nonprofit from scratch, or you’re just looking to fund a specific community project or event, finding and applying for foundation grants can be an overwhelming process – especially if you don’t have a seasoned grant writer at your beck and call. For some nonprofits, just finding appropriate grant providers can feel like hoping the cherries line up on a slot machine.
But it doesn’t have to be.
With the strong philosophical alignment between the library and nonprofits, it should be no surprise that the Poudre River Public Library District has made it a priority to be a key partner in local nonprofit development and success.
The Library District is part of the Foundation Center’s Funding Information Network and has a variety of free classes and workshops, eResources, print materials, and subject matter specialists to assist you with learning about grants, identifying potential funding sources, and writing effective grant applications.
1. Online Nonprofit Resource Center
This is your starting point to become acquainted with what the Library District has to offer!
The Library District’s website section dedicated to nonprofit-specific resources and connections. There are links to materials available through the library, to local and regional resources, and to recommended reading. You can also access the list of free nonprofit classes or request a one-on-one appointment with a nonprofit or business librarian.
Local nonprofit Zonta Fort Collins is one of many community organizations making use of these tools as they seek funding for their new art-in-public-places exhibit, Her Legacy: Women of Fort Collins.
Patti Smith, chair of the project, describes the grant prospecting experience. “The process can be very intimidating,” she explains. “There are lots of rules and tips to learn, and lots of lingo to understand. But, we made use of all the free resources at the library to pursue funds, including working one-on-one with extremely knowledgeable nonprofit and business resource librarians.”
2. Nonprofit Resource Librarian
Your next to-do is to get in touch with Nonprofit Resource Librarian, Sarah Scobey.
She has more than 20 years of experience as a librarian and working with nonprofits. But it was the community’s growing need for nonprofit resources, information, and consulting that solidified Sarah’s current position and tapped into her local expertise and nonprofit knowledge. In addition to being the go-to person at Old Town Library for nonprofit organizations, Sarah also serves as Fort Collins’ Small Business Development Center’s nonprofit business consultant.
“I work with all types of nonprofits on a daily basis, and I meet people where they are in their action plan,” Sarah explains. “My goal is to help nonprofits identify their needs and put them in contact with the best resources to move forward.”
During meetings with Sarah, nonprofits can expect professional guidance and information including a needs assessment; an introduction to the nonprofit resources available at the library; brochures on starting a nonprofit and identifying funding; direction on searching and applying for applicable foundation grants; and information on grant writing classes.
“I’m available for people to bounce ideas off or to advise them on the direction they’re headed. I’m available equally for seasoned nonprofit professionals or people just thinking about establishing a 501(c).”
“We’re so thankful the Library District has experts like Sarah available to help nonprofits like us,” says Patti. “They’re genuinely interested in helping us and providing support after we leave the library. It’s a human touch.”
You can request an appointment with Sarah through the website or call her directly at 970-224-6122.
3. Classes, Workshops, and Webinars
The Friday Afternoon Conversations for Nonprofits program offers topical, interactive classes and webinars focused on grant prospecting and writing. Community experts are often presenters in these sessions. There are still a few class offerings throughout the remainder of 2016.
“I took two Library District grant writing classes last year and found them tremendously useful in the depth of information and the practical step-by-step approach to finding and writing grants,” says Stacey Jensen, a local freelance grant writer currently working with Zonta Fort Collins to help them obtain foundation funding.
The Library District also offers the online learning platform Lynda.com which connects you to free skills classes, tutorials, and interactive lessons including a “Nonprofit Fundamentals” course.
4. eResources and Databases
The Library District also has five excellent eResources specific to nonprofit funding and grant writing:
- Colorado Grants Guide database*
- Foundation Directory Online database**
- Foundation Grants to Individuals Online database**
- Foundation Maps data visualization tool**
- GrantSpaceSM online learning community
Patti admits that she and others on the Her Legacy committee had “very limited experience with grant writing or how to even find grants.” So it wasn’t until they connected with Sarah at Old Town Library that they began to really make headway in their funding pursuits.
“We didn’t even know comprehensive databases like these existed, and certainly not how to use them effectively,” explains Patti. “Sarah’s knowledge of nonprofit organizations and the online resources helped us connect to the information we really needed for this project to thrive.”
Stacey has made particular use of the Colorado Grants Guide and Foundation Directory databases to identify potential grantors. She mentions that the Foundation Directory has allowed her to find interesting options like Wells Fargo’s Corporate Giving for nonprofits and educators.
5. Books and other Materials
It should come as no surprise that hundreds of books on nonprofit management and funding are available for checkout just by searching our online catalog.
Use keywords such as fundraising, writing grants, nonprofit, and nonprofit finance to find circulating print books, eBooks, and audiobooks. You also can use Prospector and interlibrary loan services to access materials from other libraries if necessary.
“There’s a wealth of handbooks and guides about grant writing available for checkout,” Stacey points out. “It’s a great option for self-paced learning and really helps once you begin writing inquiry letters and applications.”
The Old Town Library’s nonprofit resource area is located in the southeast corner of the second floor in the Reference section. The area includes reference materials and free informational brochures to get you started in your information search.
About Zonta Fort Collins
Zonta Fort Collins is the local chapter of the international nonprofit working to advance the status of women and girls worldwide through service and advocacy.
For information about the “Her Legacy” art-in-public-places exhibit; the artist Rachael Lynn Davis, M.F.A., and her work; and the process for nominating distinguished women for inclusion, please visit HerLegacyZontaFC.com.
*Due to licensing restrictions, this database is not accessible from home.
**The Foundation Center databases are only available at the Harmony Library and Old Town Library locations.