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Management 370: Nonprofits: Research Tools

A guide to assist Dr. Hansen's students.

Your Research Task: 

Case study of a large, established, private organization. 

Things to look for:

Goals & objectives? Leadership structure? Amount of money disbursed? On what causes? What sizes of grants? Mission or vision? Major milestones or landmark accomplishments? Consider all these elements both at its founding and currently, and note any major changes. 

Information on the founder -- biography? When did s/he found the org? With how much money? What social/cultural/political forces in the U.S. influenced him/her? Philosophy of philanthropy? How does this compare to Carnegie's ideals? 

Evaluate:

Do you think the founder would approve of the direction his/her foundation is taking today? Why or why not?

Info on Foundations

Use Foundation Center Directory Online for...

  • How many grants, which size, to which organizations
  • Funding interests, priorities, similar organizations
  • 990 Forms
  • People at the org (and possible connections to your network)

Use the Username and Password provided to you in your in-class session with the librarian! (or ask me, right)

Books

Use Books for...

  • Detailed biographies, overview of his/her entire life
  • Long-term perspective on his/her legacy
  • Remember that books by the founder are considered primary sources -- these get you "inside their head" like no other source can, but keep in mind that they can also be shortsighted, self-glorifying, or otherwise limited by the perspectives of that era
  • Books by others are considered secondary sources -- these are (usually, not always) more independent and attempt to provide a well-rounded view of the person or foundation, with all their flaws 

Remember that you don't have to read the whole book! Use the Table of contents, Index, introduction or conclusion, skim important sections -- you can get vital information about this person or foundation without having to read 100 pages!

As well, for e-books, you can jump to specific sections or use the "search within" function to search for certain keywords or topics. 

All of our books (print and e-) are searchable from within Research@UWW on our homepage. Search for both your person's name and the foundation's name

If we don't have many titles here, you can request items for free to be delivered from other libraries in the UW System. Watch this video to learn more: 

Finally, if you search Whitewater and the UW System and find no good titles, also search Worldcat (below). This searches 70K+ library catalogs at once. Most items there can be requested via Interlibrary Loan, for free! 

Scholarly Articles

Use Scholarly Articles for...

  • Focused analysis on one very specific detail of your founder's life or organization
  • Study from one critical point of view -- a specific theory, philosophy, how did s/he impact XYZ, etc.

Current News

Use Current News for...

  • Current funding or grants distributed by the organization
  • Current events related to the people on the board of directors -- what are their companies? affiliations? legal disputes? political involvement?
  • Occasionally, some long-view analysis, but usually not as in-depth as books

Websites

Use Websites for...

  • Current events, breaking news
  • Social media, self-promotion, press releases
  • Opinion/advocacy pieces from the founders or board members
  • 990s -- annual financial forms nonprofits must fill out with the IRS

Places to start:

  • Re:Source: https://resource.rockarch.org/ -- telling the stories of foundation histories. Use the Search magnifying glass in the corner. Search for only the significant word in your name -- e.g. Hilton, Kresge, Pew -- do NOT include Foundation, as that's too common of a word and returns too many results here. 
  • Candid: https://candid.org/ -- an amalgamation of Foundation Center and Guidestar -- news releases from foundations, several years' worth of financials/990 forms
  • GlassPockets: http://glasspockets.org/ -- from the Foundation Center, a tool for transparency in philanthropy.
    On their homepage, choose the box saying "XX Foundations have Glass Pockets," then search for your foundation in the list. 
  • Demystifying the 990 form -- from Candid

Reference & Instruction Librarian

Naomi Schemm's picture
Naomi Schemm
Contact:
Andersen Library, room 2105A
Hyland Hall office hours, no appointment needed: Hyland lobby
Mondays, 12:30-2:00 / Tuesdays, 10-11:30
262-472-5519

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