A Field Trip to the Foundation Center

David Johnston


A Blog Post from our Summer Intern, Meera!

It’s already been one week since I’ve been working alongside EtM: from Excel spreadsheets to preparing for City Council hearings, the variety of work to do for this nonprofit is keeping me very busy!


FullSizeRender-2Last Thursday, I journeyed over to the Foundation Center to learn more about what grants EtM should apply for to expand our funding sources. Grants are the food and water for organization. Yet, the whole concept of funding is more than just a person who is really rich giving money to an organization. (If only it could be that easy!) Therefore, a trip to the Foundation Center was necessary.
The Foundation Center is a short 9-minute walk from EtM, on Fifth Avenue between 15th and 16th. Located on the 2nd floor of a very tall skyscraper (something I’m still getting used to, as you rarely find these in the South), it functions similar to a library. There are databases, books, and very helpful people who guide you towards the information you or your organization needs.

The goal of this trip was to dig through the database of foundations and figure out what new organizations should be on EtM’s radar. FullSizeRender-3Coming into this research scene with very little background, I learned about the various organizations that give money to the greater NYC area. First of all, foundations form relationships with organizations based on similar needs and missions. The research must be done deliberately and thoroughly, because many foundations have strict requirements.

Filtering through these requirements was a very tedious task, but in the process, I was introduced to a variety of foundations that had interesting missions to support the arts. Ranging from Jewish families that want to spread religious and cultural awareness through the arts, to organizations that fund arts projects in the healthcare sector, the field for funding is massive.

EtM has 2 goals in mind:

  • Look for foundations that supported the arts/performing arts in the NYC area
  • Look for smaller foundations that have a more flexible application process and tend to fund smaller non -profits such as EtM.


Filtering for these requirements, I ran into a number of foundations that simply did not work for us as they either wanted to fund only an artistic product and not a service organization, or they met our requirements, but their previous donors were places such as MoMA or NYC Philharmonic (too large for us to compete with!).

Once I’d compiled an adequate spreadsheet of foundations that had potential, I went through the arduous task of looking through their 990 tax forms to check Board members and submission procedures.This is like completing the hardest “Where is Waldo” search you’ve ever done, because there are about 30 odd pages to go through in a 990, and no two forms are filled out the same.


Grant applications are an ongoing and competitive process. But, it is important for EtM to expand our network and really understand what resources we should tap into versus what resources we want to tap into.


Overall, I gathered a whole list of potential funders, and a lot of knowledge to use in future endeavors.


– A successful field trip brought to you by your summer intern!




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