Web Search Engines

Value of Supplemental Research: Rather than stop with the minimal and outdated entries in funding databases and print directories, competitive grantseekers hunt for additional information on the web. Witness the example below:

  • A funding directory published in 2000 gives data from the 1996 tax year, showing the largest Markkula Foundation gift as $25,000 to Immanuel Lutheran Church.
  • Web research finds information on the Markkula family’s $5 million gift to Santa Clara University to establish a Center for Applied Ethics and $300,000 grant for a scholarship program in New York. Further research determines that Mike Markkula was the orginal investor and largest individual stockholder of Apple Computer; the owner of ACM Aviation, and the founder of the Echelon Corporation. His current stock holdings are worth over $160 million and his primary home is appraised at $21 million. Obviously this foundation and the donor have the capacity to contribute far more than $25,000.

Favorite Search Engines: During the past two years, the depth of web information and the sophisticated of search engines have brought a wealth of nonprofit research material within reach. All major search engines have a built-in help feature or tutorial to teach power research tricks to beginners. The following search engines provide good starting places: www.google.com, www.altavista.com, www.hotbot.com, www.dogpile.com, and www.iwon.com

Searching Tips: Use quotation marks (for phases that must be found in an exact word order), plus signs (for words that must be contained on retrieved pages, versus words that are desired but optional), and asterisks (wild card endings for word stems) to control search results. Read the “help” instructions for each search engine to learn more tricks for search strings that narrow results. If searching with Netscape Navigator, use Edit: Find (or Control-F) to find your keyword on a retrieved web page. Sometimes displayed web text cannot be easily copied; try View: Page Source and then skim the HTML tags to find the relevant paragraphs when necessary.

Sample Search Strings: As an example, you might be researching grants made by the Abbotomus Foundation, founded by James Abbotomus and affiliated with the Abbotomus Electronics Company. The following search strings would be appropriate:

  • +”Abbotomus Foundation” grant* gift* charity philanthropy
  • +Abbotomus +James gift benefactor supporter
  • +”Abbotomus Electronics Company” sponsor community grant “corporate relations”