From time to time, we pass along links to helpful and free-of-charge educational resources for 501(c)(3) organizations.
For instance, in Foundation Law: Free Online Learning (January 10, 2019) we highlighted the Learn Foundation Law site created several years earlier by the legal staff at four major American foundations. There are engaging animated tutorials starring “Maya,” who is a new foundation program officer needing expert help (from a disembodied voice somewhere offscreen) with the complex laws that apply to funders and grantee organizations. To get an idea of the excellence of this series, take a look – for example – at Advocacy & Lobbying Rules for Private Foundations as well as the companion course titled Advocacy & Lobbying: Rules for Public Charity Grantees of Private Foundations. There, “Alex,” a new 501(c)(3) executive director planning to ask Maya’s foundation for a grant, needs help asap about what his organization can and cannot do.
A Mission of Information
“For a combined 88 years, Foundation Center and GuideStar each helped the world by giving people the information they needed to do good.” That’s how Candid’s website describes the combined history and missions of its predecessors. Now, the new entity describes itself as the “leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. Through data, analysis, and training, it connects people who want to change the world to the resources they need to succeed.”
Candid Learning provides an impressive roster of free or low-cost training and educational resources including “live and on-demand trainings, webinars, and other resources designed to improve” its visitors’ fundraising, overall sustainability, grantmaking, and transparency.”
In the fall of 2020, the organization announced its newest entry: Knowledge Base. What was the catalyst? Simply put, according to Grace Sato, Candid’s Director of Research, they “… get asked all types of questions.” See Answering your questions: What you need to know before you give (October 8, 2020), Candid Blog. While many have focused on “COVID-19, our democracy, and racial equity in our society,” she wrote, there are “even more out there.”
So Candid Learning decided to create a dedicated website section “to answer the ones” they’re “seeing over and over again.”
Among the repeat questions are:
- Where can I find examples of nonprofit budgets?
- Where can I find emergency financial resources to help with COVID-19 hardships?
- How are nonprofits funded?
- Is there a difference between the terms “nonprofit” and “not-for-profit?”
- Where can I find information about government grants?
- Where can I find an organization’s Form 990 or 990-PF?
- What is cause-related marketing?
- How do I find grants for my nonprofit?
- How do I write a business plan for my organization?
- What is fiscal sponsorship? How do I find a fiscal sponsor?
- What is the “public support” test? How do I calculate it?
Candid’s Knowledge Base aims to let its visitors “…listen, hear, or read advice from funders and nonprofit experts” so they can make confident decisions and achieve excellence in their social sector operations.” There are already almost 250 results, sorted by popularity and alphabetically.
And for any organization with additional questions, Candid Learning offers its Online Librarian service to provide fairly quick answers.
Knowledge Base covers questions and answers of interest to 501(c)(3) organizations that go well beyond – strictly speaking – the legal ones. But, more often not, all roads lead back eventually to the law.
For instance, an organization with questions about cause-related marketing needs to know more than just the basics: what it is and whether it can be a useful part of an overall fundraising strategy. The board and senior staff must learn which “i’s to dot and t’s to cross” to keep it legal. Online sources like this one are important pieces of the total information puzzle. And you can’t beat the price.
— Linda J. Rosenthal, J.D., FPLG Information & Research Director