Monday, December 31, 2007

Directory of Nonprofits

We have a print directory in our collection that provides contact information for nonprofit organizations around the U.S. It would be an ideal resource if it were only available online somewhere. Its layout makes identifying nonprofits in a given area a very cumbersome task.

There are websites that provide this information, though they have their limitations, too. I recently suggested to an advisor that his client check out what I consider to be the best of this bunch:
http://www.idealist.org/if/as/Org/npo

As you'll see, the search feature gives you the option of searching by state/province, city/town, postal code, and "area of focus". Use of any or all of these fields can be used to create a pretty targeted list of NFPs in a given geographic area. Once you get your results, the name of each NFP is hyperlinked to a page with more complete contact information.

Precision searching is a priority here. For example, I did a search of all NFPs in New York, and found 5,567 organizations. That's a pretty vast undertaking. However, a search of NFPs with "Economic Development" as their "area of focus" drops the results to 369. The search page also has a "keywords" field, which can help narrow things even more.

Again, it's not a perfect system. It's tedious to have to click on the name of every NFP to find the contact information - but if you find yourself facing that situation, then it's probably a sign to narrow your search a bit more. Keep it in mind.

Happy New Year to all!

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