Wednesday, June 17, 2009
FOUNDATION CENTER NETWORK DAYS, DAY 1
MIDWEST COOPERATING COLLECTIONS MEET-UP
The first session was a chat with other Midwestern Cooperating Collection supervisors moderated by a librarian from the Cleveland branch of the Foundation Center using Cover It Live. Trends in use of the Cooperating Collection were discussed. Most reported skyrocketing demand and patrons needing more help. Some have reported success in getting funders to work with them and offer "meet the grantmakers" programs at their library, while others said that grantmakers are reluctant to participate due to reduced funds. Hot trends included giving circles and urban gardens. Most supervisors were encouraging patrons finding it hard to obtain 501 (c)(3) status to look into fiscal sponsorship instead, as the requirements are less onerous. It was suggested that these meet-ups be offered on a quarterly basis, which I think would be a good idea.
STATE OF THE FOUNDATION CENTER
The President and Vice President of the Foundation Center discussed what's going on there now and in the future. Did you know there are now Cooperating Collections in Thailand, Mexico, Nigeria and Brazil? The business model of the Foundation Center blends earnings from the databases with grants, so they are doing OK considering the economic climate. In order to continue to be a high-tech, high-touch operation, they are working on a new web platform that combines the databases, training, and Web 2.0 aspects, to come out some time this year. Focus on the Economic Crisis is a new page on the Foundation Center web site that collects research, news, videos, and a map of stimulus funding by state.
BEST PRACTICES FOR BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS WITH NONPROFIT CLIENTELE
Linda Leovic Towery, CC Coordinator for the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, discussed how she works with internal and external customers. With administration and other librarians, she invites them to classes and makes sure to get feedback for annual reports. She also recommends publicizing the resources to elected officials, as they often get requests from non-profits and people in need. Other staff must be trained so that they can assist patrons when the CC Coordinator is not around, and the CC Coordinator should be given the opportunity for outreach in the community.
For patrons, libraries can be intimidating and looking for grants can be scary. Towery built an in-house database of the names and phone numbers or emails of everyone who asks her about the Foundation Collection. She has monthly classes for nonprofits and lunchtime guest speaker programs which she publicizes by sending emails to patrons in her database. Towery reminded us that the Foundation Center wants us to teach people how to use the Foundation Directory Online, not do searches for them. She always asked the patron if they are a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit, and if they want grants to individuals, she lets them know that there are only 6,000 such grants, mostly for research and education, and not a complete list of educational grants by any means.
SOCIAL NETWORKING TOOLS FOR NONPROFITS
The two presenters of this webinar feel that there is no downside for a nonprofit in using Web 2.0 tools, but it's good to try them first to see what works best for you. Instead of thinking of it as "extra work", us Web 2.0 to have a conversation and learn from others, rather than doing things the old-fashioned way: closed, small and proprietary.