Candid’s Foundation Directory Online (often called ‘FDO’, for short) is one of the many available options for conducting online grants research and creating a grant strategy.
However, in order to use it you must have a subscription and that, of course, costs money. So I often hear from many of my readers and subscribers that they are hesitant in buying a subscription because they aren’t sure if the return on investment will be worth it or not.
Before we address the all-important question of ROI, let’s look at the cost. Exactly how much will an FDO subscription run you?
Here are the various tiers of subscriptions and their costs:
- FDO Essential – this option starts at $31.58/mo (depending on how you choose to be billed it may be more)
- FDO Professional – this option starts at $118.67/mo (again, that price can increase depending on how you choose to be billed)
- FDO Enterprise – they won’t even give you the price for this online. Nope, you have to enter all your info and get an official quote instead, which should tell you that it’s going to cost a pretty penny.
Now, each of these tiers comes with an increasing level of associated benefits and features. I’m not going to recite their entire website here, so if you want to check out which features are included at which FDO subscription tier, you can take a look by clicking here.
Depending on your org’s budget, none of these options are exactly cheap so most put quite a lot of thought into it before they decide to subscribe or not. Which is right for you?
Well, it depends.
But here’s a little decision map I made to hopefully make this process a bit easier for you.
What is my personal opinion?
As a consultant, I hold subscriptions to multiple grants databases and I use all of them. All of them are somewhat better at certain things. All of them have advantages and disadvantages. Having said that, FDO is usually my first stop when I’m researching grants because…
- it has a very comprehensive listing of US-based foundations and corporate giving programs, including tons of grantmakers that don’t have websites
- the data and information they include on foundation listings are usually very complete
- you can access 990s right from the foundation’s profile page
- each funder profile will also show you any news articles associated with them
- you can see average award amounts, giving priorities, areas/regions where they give, contact info, and submission info at a quick glance (which makes research faster and easier)
- you can save foundation profiles to your FDO Dashboard, marking them as prospects to research, to apply to, and you can track the entire grants process in the Dashboard as well
- you can also use the Dashboard to assign tasks and deadlines so nothing falls through the cracks
The only thing I don’t love about FDO is that it will block you from seeing certain funder profiles if you don’t have a Professional or Enterprise-level subscription. But truthfully, you probably won’t run into that issue often enough for it to matter much.
If you’re on the fence, I would suggest trying to find a nearby library with a subscription so you can take it for a test drive (although you won’t be able to use their Dashboard features that way).
Obligatory disclosure: FDO didn’t ask me to write this article and I’m not making any money whatsoever from it if you sign up with them. These are just my opinions and I hope you and your nonprofit benefit from them.