Finding Grant Opportunities for Libraries

US Dollars Money

At the New Jersey Library Association Conference a couple of months ago, Kate Tkacik, Director of Network Engagement at Foundation Center, spoke about a free data tool which can assist libraries in their efforts to finding funding opportunities. By exploring the Visualizing Funding for Libraries data tool, libraries can “see who is funding library projects, analyze funder and library networks, and discover natural collaborators.” You can explore library funding data through maps, charts, and pathways, and other means. The data set includes foundation funding information from 2006 to the present.

A search in the data tool on grants received by libraries in New Jersey yields a result set of 1,246 grants given to 229 recipients from 294 funders worth a total of $47.8 million.

Digging deeper into the data will provide the specific names of the funders — foundations whose interests and mission might align with your library. The Visualizing Funding data tool is a great (free and easily accessible) way to start your grant research process.

New Jersey library grant snapshot
A snapshot of foundation grant funding to New Jersey libraries (after a search in Foundation Center’s Visualizing Funding data tool)


After you’ve started your research in the Visualizing Funding data tool, you might wish to learn even more details about the grantmakers you’ve discovered. Your next step might be research into the Foundation Center’s premier database, Foundation Directory Online Professional (FDO). This database enables research through 140,000 grantmakers (including those who have funded libraries and those who haven’t) and provides detailed information on these grantmakers, including issued grants, funding interests, the application and RFP process, staff, and other details.

One thing to bear in mind: access to FDO Professional is by subscription only (unlike the Visualizing Funding data tool, which you can access from any browser). There are a number of New Jersey public libraries where you can access FDO Professional in person (but call ahead to confirm!): New Jersey State Library, Elizabeth Public Library, Hillsborough Branch of Somerset County Library System, Margaret E. Heggan Library and the Westampton headquarters of Burlington County Library System.

In addition to in-person access to Foundation Directory Online Professional, at the New Jersey State Library (at 185 West State Street in Trenton) you can also find grant writing resources in our print collection on Level Four. Business and Funding Information Librarian Leigh Clark can provide an orientation to FDO and to our grants-related collections during your visit. Contact Leigh via phone at 609-278-2640 ext. 158 or email at

About Eileen Morales

Throughout my career, I've helped museums and libraries in New York and New Jersey find funding sources for new projects. My favorite projects have utilized new technologies to increase public access to the photographs, diaries, and everyday objects that are not usually on display. My position as Grants Manager at the New Jersey State Library includes outreach to New Jersey libraries involved in the grant-seeking process. Email me at