Wisdom Wednesdays: Free Development Resources … Through the Public Library System

by Kris Blackwell

Many of us in development face increasingly tight budgets that allow for only limited, if any, resources to be devoted to research into foundation and grant opportunities.  But there may some valuable sources right under your nose.  Last year when I started at Voice of Care I was afforded two subscriptions and then we also bought one year of a grant database research program.  I also got connected with a local network of Chicago development professionals called the West Suburban Philanthropic Network.  Through one of their monthly programs, I found a FREE resource right at my local college library.

Thanks to the Foundation Center and Donors Forum, my local, community College of DuPage is the site of a Philanthropic Library Center.  To see all the items they offer just visit http://www.cod.edu/library/Philanthropy/index.htm.  To access the materials I need to be a local resident or be employed in the college district and have a library card.  I also must physically be somewhere on the campus to access the databases, which include Foundation Directory and Wealth Engine.  You should be able to meet such simple requirements in your area, as well.  In the past, I would pay to subscribe to several industry newsletters, but now I just spend an afternoon reading at the library.  Books that would have been bought online are now checked out for three weeks!

I thought that maybe I was just blessed with an excellent library system, but I researched some other cities and found that much of this type of information is usually contained at one of the main libraries in a city.  While Donors Forum just operates in Illinois, an internet search brings forth colleges in many states and countries that have centers.  Start with the Foundation Center and search Cooperating Collections to see their nearest center to you.  If one is not listed for your area, there is even an application process to start one. 

I hope this opens a whole new world of research for you!

Deaconess Kris Blackwell is Director of Development at Voice of Care, a ministry of spiritual care for people with developmental disabilities, in West Chicago, Ill.

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