I have been attending Foundation Center presentations and workshops since 2001, and I have been impressed with their professionalism, adaptability and impact over the years. The content of the Foundation Center workshops and panels shift to respond to current trends and nonprofit community needs, from exploring the use of social media to surviving in a time of economic crisis. They also offer workshops on the essentials to building and running effective organizations and programs including board development, development planning and communications, among other key topics. Frequently, I receive inquires from nonprofits from all over the U.S. about how to seek a grant, and I oftentimes refer them to the Foundation Center if they are just getting started. In addition to being a great resource for nonprofits, the Center's programs are a valuable outreach arm for the philanthropic community. Foundations want grantseekers to understand giving priorities and the grantseeking process so that they can focus their giving to meet their goals, attract ready applicants and create the greatest impact. The Center's director Janet Camarena hosts many of the "Meet the Grantmaker" panels, which bring together insightful and smart program officers from small and large foundation leaders. As the moderator, Janet asks thought-provoking questions that bring transparency, highlight best practices and bridge a greater understanding between foundations and nonprofits. While providing a valuable service to the local philanthropic and grantseeking community, the Foundation Center has also worked hard to make their free programs and resources accessible to individuals and organizations outside of the San Francisco area through their blogs and video archives. This is an especially important asset for historically under-resourced communities.
I don't know how I could have gotten my start as a fundraising professional without the Foundation Center. The resource library and training sessions in San Francisco provided me with the tools and information I needed to successfully approach foundation funders. Whether you're new to fundraising or a seasoned professional, the Foundation Center is always there to provide quality information and friendly service. I could not do my job without it.