Foundation Grants to Individuals Online is a database for people who are seeking grants, but are not part of a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit. As far as searching the database goes, it is the same basic structure, but keep in mind that there are only about 8,000 grants in this database, as opposed to 90,000 or so in Foundation Directory Online. As in FDO, searching by fields of interest is best, just click on the words "field of interest" on the search screen to bring them all up. Since there are relatively few entries, using more than 2 fields of interest will probably result in zero hits. If the patron isn't having any luck, try the text search (truncation with * is allowed), then look up the fields of interest in the most relevant results. It is also recommended to try the most specific field of interest first, then broaden the search.
In addition to the grantmaker search, the front page of FGTIO also has a place where patrons can sign up to be emailed requests for proposals; reference guides for different types of indivduals such as artists, musicians, students, filmmakers, etc.; and topical research lists, which are bibliographies of publications and electronic resources.
If the patron doesn't know where to get started, the Foundation Center web page has a handy guide. The worksheets at the bottom can help them focus their search. The patron should try to determine if they have any affiliations that could help them: schools, employers, religious affiliations, trade associations, clubs, or the military. Grants may also be available for children, spouses or other close relatives.
Another option for an individual is fiscal sponsorship, where they affiliate themselves with a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit. This means that they could search throgh the larger body of grants in the Foundation Directory Online, but there is usually a small fee. If the patron is actually looking for help starting a business or other for-profit enterprise, that is beyond the scope of the Foundation Center databases, but they do have some links on their web page to get them started.
One final fact: According to this webinar, only 5-10% of foundations have a web site, which underscores the importance of these databases.