While looking for a new job in fund-raising, someone suggested that I look into The Foundation Center’s online courses. I am certainly glad that I did. They offer a variety of courses, some for a fee and others that are free.

The Foundation Center is well-known as a leading authority on philanthropy. It was first established in 1956 and there are now Center locations in several large cities across the United States. The headquarters is in New York City and Field Offices are in Atlanta, GA; Cleveland, OH; San Francisco, CA; and Washington, DC. The Foundation Center has an extensive library of information about foundations for organizations and individuals. They also offer on-site classes.

But what can you do if you live in a part of the country that does not have a Foundation Center located near you? For this reason they have also created online courses. The online courses are extensive and offer lots of information on their subject area.

In speaking with Dr. JuWon Choi, Vice President for Educational Services of The Foundation Center, I discovered that they actually offer three different types of online training opportunities.

Free Online Courses

“The first type is what we call “tools and resources” and they are online guides to help grantseekers to make the most of the Foundation Center’s web site and databases. Examples include Guide to the Foundation Center’s Web Site and The Foundation Directory Online Guided Tour. Anybody can access these from our web site free of charge,” said Dr. Choi.

The second type is what is called “Quick Tutorials”. “The “Quick Tutorials” introduce grantseekers to the world of foundations, proposal writing, and related topics. These resemble short e-books and examples include Proposal Writing Short Course (available in 6 languages), Guide to Funding Research, and Establishing a Nonprofit Organization. Again, anybody can access these from our web site free of charge,”said Dr. Choi

Pay As You Go Courses

“The third type is more intensive courses that reinforce lessons with interactivity, assignments, and self-tests. You have taken two of our courses—Grantseeking Basics for Individuals and Grantseeking Basics for Nonprofit Organizations. In addition, we have many others such as Getting Ready for Foundation Fundraising and Proposal Writing. Some of our courses are available free of charge and some are fee-based,” said Dr. Choi

As Dr. Choi mentions, I took the courses Grantseeking Basics for Nonprofit Organizations and also Grantseeking for Basics for Individuals. I enjoyed these classes. I did not have any previous grantwriting experience before. I found them to be very informative, and also extremely approachable. There is great detail in this class, it is not the type of class that someone would probably complete in a single evening. This is more a class that someone can go back to over several evenings.

Grantseeking Basics for Nonprofit Organization Course

The course Grantseeking Basics for Nonprofit Organization, for example, takes you step-by-step through the grantwriting process, explaining to you how it works as if you were going to write a grant. That in some ways was a bit challenging for me because I did not have a specific organization in mind. So I used the idea of writing a grant for an organization I was doing some volunteer work for – so that I had an organization to direct the assignments towards.

I thought the assignments were excellent, there were enough assignments to keep you thinking about the project without overwhelming you with too much work. It was clear that you could also take the assignments to a deeper level, and there were even book recommendations offered so you could further your study beyond the course, which was just great to see, because how many times have we been in a class and a professor has suggested we read an article or look at a specific book? So this was very much like being in a class.

One of the challenges with the course is that you cannot print it out. I would have liked the opportunity to review the lessons at a later date after doing the examples. The Foundation Center does make it clear that you do have access to the course for 180 days, which is certainly a very generous amount of time – and this gives you lots of time to go back and reflect. There is also the ability to take notes inside the course as you are taking it. But once I learned I could not print out my notes I chose to take my notes on a Word document so I could print them out and save them on my own computer.

The design of this course is also very attractive. I know that is not the only reason to consider taking this type of course, but when you are learning online, it is helpful to have something that is going to be “easy on your eyes” and make learning comfortable. This is a very attractive looking course with a variety of graphics offered (pie charts and some other graphics). Different colored text is also used, which makes reading easier. I was also very impressed that The Foundation Center could cover such a dense subject, but make the course’s text very condensed in a number of ways – there is no superfluous writing in this course.

New Courses from The Foundation Center

Dr. Choi confirms that there will be more online courses offered in the future. “Yes, we recently issued our 8th online training course, Getting Ready for Foundation Fundraising which we made available free of charge, and already many people are finding it helpful. We are getting close to introducing a comprehensive course on proposal writing. We have a few other courses in various stages of development at the moment.

Find out more about The Foundation Center Online Training Courses.

You can find additional links for grant databases and other resources on the grants page in the directory.

Posted on 17 March 2009

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