Thursday, January 25, 2007

Resources for Researching Foundations

The best comprehensive free resource for foundations is Guidestar

It allows the user to look at 990s, which give all available information on a foundation. Guidestar is also useful for finding other non-profit boards.

Another resource is Foundations Online which provides links to a variety of foundation websites.

Larger foundations usually have their own sites, with up-to-date grants lists and foundation guidelines.

The two largest for-fee information services are

Foundation Center

Foundation Center has a free foundation finder which provides basic information. It also has a list of foundations trustees, which can be found here

and Foundation Search America (Metasoft)

which has many nifty features, including the ability to download grant information into an Excel spreadsheet

It can be useful to look at the local community foundation website to see if an individual has set up a donor-advised fund.

Resources for Researching Corporations

Many companies have their own websites with a variety of information available.

There are a variety of business resources available for free online. Most of these only cover larger businesses.

These include

Google Finance
Yahoo Finance

These business resources provide full profiles, especially for publicly held businesses. The information available usually includes insider trading information, annual sales, profit margins and ratios and a description of a business.

Manta provides basic company information on more than 45 million companies, and has a great deal more information on privately held firms.

SEC Info provides free online access to documents on publicly held companies. Sometimes privately held companies are also mentioned in SEC Documents, so it is always worth checking.

Many small businesses are listed in ReferenceUSA, which is available through most libraries. Other good library sources include Lexis/Nexis for Academic Libraries, Dun and Bradstreet, General Business File ASAP, Business Source Premier and Mergent Online.

Local newspapers, including the Business Journals Online often have information that you can't find anywhere else.

A full list of resources available at the Multnomah County Library can be found here. This list also contains links to other outside organizations. Most libraries now have these sorts of resources on their websites.

Resources for Researching Individuals

The following are useful resources when researching individuals:

Newslibrary is a collection of newspaper archives from around the country. It contains most of the major newspapers in the United States. It is free to search, and then charges a certain amount per article. Whenever possible, I use the newspaper archives available through the library.


ZoomInfo is a biographic aggregator. It provides short biographies on individuals based on information pulled from the Internet. I find it particularly useful when trying to figure out if I am researching John A. Smith or John P. Smith. I use this as a starting place for general Internet searching.

The Business Journals

The Business Journals have archives for more than 40 cities' Business Journals. This can be particularly useful for finding profiles of prominent business people.

NOZA Search

Noza is a fee based resource which provides an individual's giving information, as culled from publicly available online annual reports.

Other Library Resources

Other Library resources I use include Who's Who (also called Biography Research Center Online), and Gale's General Businessfile ASAP, which provides archives of trade magazines. These can be particularly good for finding biographies. Often I will find articles from Oregon Business, or Washington CEO through these sources.