Looking for help with your nonprofit project or idea of social enterprise? You might find innovative, expert assistance in your own neighborhood. The Funding Information Network (FIN) provides free access to Foundation Center databases, publications, and in-person training at more than 400 locations.

FINs are often found in public libraries, academic libraries community foundations, and other nonprofit resources centers. They have public computers (many include free WiFi) where you can log in to Foundation Directory Online, Foundation Maps, and Foundation Grants to Individuals Online. Many offer in-person classes, programs, and networking events. Did we mention that these are all free to use?

But what really makes our FIN partners locations so incredible is, of course, the people on-site who help you make sense of our resources, through hands-on assistance, training, and a variety of programming opportunities. Many of our FIN affiliates provide more than basic access to Foundation Center resources at no cost: They serve as consultants, conveners, and catalysts to social change. Many of our colleagues at FIN locations are social sector experts in their own right.

Three of these outstanding FINs were given Foundation Center's inaugural Excellence in Innovation award last fall to recognize FINs who are translating their affiliation with Foundation Center into creative solutions to their local communities. Each of our winners has a unique approach to broadening their impact on their local community.

Here are a few highlights from our winners and the work they are doing to strengthen their communities. Their stories help illuminate what's happening in the Network and the sort of inspiration you might find in your own neighborhood.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, NC


Lydia Towery is a force of nature in the Funding Information Network. Lydia and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, bolstered by support from the Duke Endowment, is able to provide an array of nonprofit services, offering programming and support on everything from fundraising, to board cultivation, to developing a volunteer program and more.

Lydia and her colleagues were recognized for leveraging their resources to boost their nonprofit know-how: Lydia and her colleague Rachel completed the nine month Wake Forest Essentials of Business for Nonprofit Organizations Certificate program to deepen their understanding of social sector issues and enable them to provide even greater support to their community. Taking this extra step in professional development has an incredible positive impact on the expertise of the entire Funding Information Network.

Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, CA


Kim East provides enthusiastic and social media-savvy leadership for the Funding Information Network program housed in the Borina Nonprofit Resource Center at the community foundation. Kim and her colleagues were recognized for the Innovation Award for going beyond basic standards for the network and providing truly unique programming opportunities for local nonprofits, including partnering with a local-award winning news reporter to share tips with nonprofits on getting their work seen in the news. The community foundation is constantly innovating and providing unique nonprofit support, like the Nonprofit Consultant Directory and even offering meeting space and conference rooms to nonprofits free of charge.

The Public Library of New London, CT


Madhu Gupta leads the FIN site at the public library, which provides an incredible volume of free, nonprofit training to their community on a monthly basis. Madhu and her colleagues were recognized at the Network Days award ceremony specifically for enhancing their programming by forging relationships with key stakeholders in their local community, including the Community Foundation of Southeastern Connecticut and the Southeastern Connecticut chapter of SCORE.

What are the Funding Information Network locations up to near you? Check out the locations on our Find Us Map and drop in for a visit! If you don't see a location within a reasonable distance, refer a nearby organization to join the Network!

KATE TKACIK is the Manager of the Funding Information Network, providing leadership for the direction, growth, and deeper engagement of the program, both domestically and globally. Kate joined Foundation Center in 2014 as the E-Resources Librarian at Foundation Center West. Before joining Foundation Center, Kate worked as a business librarian for a financial services provider in Chicago, IL.

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