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Resources for your philanthropic thinking and research

About foundations

A stack of books.Council on Foundations is the professional association of community, corporate, family and private foundations across North America (and some other places, too). Not every foundation belongs to it, but most do. The Council on Foundations will direct you to most of the conversations foundations are having among themselves these days, but a lot of the website is limited to members.

Foundation Center maintains the most extensive database (other than the IRS) of foundations of all types in the United States. It maintains a comprehensive search engine on this website but requires payment for some of its services.

Guidestar is the ultimate data source about nonprofits, but since most foundations are nonprofits, too, this is a good location to find out the nitty gritty. With free registration, you can access organizations' Form 990, the special tax form nonprofits must file if they have revenue over $25,000. Full of good information, you can also buy more expensive access and subscribe to an online newsletter.

National Center for Family Philanthropy provides lots of handholding and an impressive range of publications to families who give.

News, philosophy, research and statistics

The Chronicle of Philanthropy rightfully bills itself as the newspaper of the nonprofit world. It covers virtually all the issues of the philanthropic sector on a biweekly basis. We like the paper version, but the website is pretty impressive and includes a searchable database.

GOOD Magazine, the mission of which is to “stimulate the culture of good by creating dialogue around things that matter.” 

National Center for Charitable Statistics is the self-described national repository of data on the nonprofit sector in the United States. A component of the Center on Nonprofits & Philanthropy, it has worked closely with the IRS and other government agencies, the private sector, and universities to report on the activities of charitable organizations.

National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy works "to make philanthropy more responsive to people with the least wealth and opportunity, more relevant to critical public needs, and more open and accountable to all, in order to create a more just and democratic society."

Nonprofit Sector Resource Fund provides research and information on nonprofits, foundations, giving,  volunteering, advocacy and public policy.

NonProfit Times Online features the Web version of major news and information resources on the nonprofit sector.

Philanthropy.org maintains an impressive database of publications, digital texts and websites and is one of the best locations we’ve seen for research on issues in multicultural philanthropy. It is produced by the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Philanthropy, a publication of The Philanthropy Roundtable, is a stylish online publication that makes you want to sit in on the meetings of the Roundtable, which happen across the country.

Giving wisely: conducting your due diligence

The Inheritance Project explores the emotional and social impact of inherited wealth, an unprecedented $10 trillion of which is expected to be passed between generations in the next 20 years. We also like the related book Robin Hood was Right: A Guide to Giving Your Money for Social Change” by Chuck Collins et al (W.W. Norton & Co., 2000)

American Institute of Philanthropy functions as a nonprofit charity watchdog and information service to maximize the effectiveness of every dollar given to charity. The site provides donors with an as-yet-limited directory to nationwide charitable organizations, with some very basic information on giving carefully.

BBB Wise Giving Alliance was formed in 2001 with the merger of the National Charities Information Bureau and the Council of Better Business Bureaus Foundation and its Philanthropic Advisory Service.

GuideStar: The Donor’s Guide to the Charitable Universe is a searchable database of extensive financial information on most of the nation’s nonprofit organizations. Find a specific charity by name, subject, state, zip code or other criteria. Determine what it spends on fundraising and administration, who sits on its board of directors and more by looking at Form 990s (see About Foundations).

Philanthropy blogs

It seems to be a secular list, but you may find your spiritual side being particularly stimulated: These six "incredible philanthropy blogs” are from a list compiled by bible-college.net