FIRE's "Nonprofits Online" Workshop


Part 1: Searching for Information:
Home PagesSearch Engines
Writing Aids
Part 2: Resources for Nonprofit Organizations
Link SitesFundraisingFinding People and BusinessesOnline DiscussionTechnologyOther Helpful Sites
Part 3: Local and Government Sites
Part 4: Two Case Studies: Advanced Use of Online Information: Case Study 1: Data Supporting the Need for Economic Development on "The Block"Case Study 2: Freedom of Information Act


Mankato, Minnesota home page

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PART 1: Searching for Information

Home Pages — Excellent Home Page. – An excellent home page with lots of valuable links.

Search Engines/Index — Judged by investigative reporters, and just about everyone else, as the best of all general search engines. Simple, fast and excellent on general subjects.

Guide to Search Engines — A �tell all� web site about search engines.

Writing Aids

The Elements of Style at — The Elements of Style by Strunk and White — the standard.

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PART 2: Resources for Nonprofit Organizations

Links Sites

North Carolina Center for Nonprofits' "Links of Interest" page — Links on a wide variety of topics.

Board and staff helpline
Free legal help
Peer and consultant referrals — Resource provided by Action Without Borders, with literally thousands for nonprofit organizations.

Tools for organizations
How to start, run and fund a nonprofit organization
Nonprofit news sites (such as the Philanthropy Journal published by the A.J. Fletcher Foundation in NC)

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The Foundation Center — Several valuable services for free and for a fee.

Foundation Finder
Foundation Directory Online. Or, see Asheville's Pack Memorial Library for FC Search: The Foundation Center's Database on CD-ROM
User-Friendly Guide to Funding Research and Resources
Free prospect worksheets
Proposal Writing Short Course
Where to find valuable information on a 990-PF.

You can download Adobe Acrobat for free to read files ending with ".pdf".

Guidestar — Another resource to use for information about foundations and nonprofit organizations. FIRE or Cannon (p. 6,9,10,28,44) for example.

Free help with your website

To network with local fundraisers, visit the Association of Fundraising Professionals Western North Carolina Chapter to find out about their next meeting.

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Finding People and Businesses

JournalistsToolbox Investigations Page—Plenty of search and database sites listed, such as

PowerReporting—Another great site with numerous links for conducting searches. For instance, people searches and company searches.

Hoover's Online — Basic information about corporations for free, and more details for a charge.

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Online Discussions

Charity Channel — public forums on a variety of topics that are of interest to nonprofit organizations.

"Grants" forum — An example of one of many forums.
Search the "Grants" archive — For example, seek "grants for computers". See item number "002641", for instance.
Search multiple archives — Requires a password.

Overview of types of online discussions at — A Canadian site, but the information is applicable to any nonprofit, and the Canadian-focussed discussion links are marked with a red maple leaf.

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Technology — Big software discounts (as much as $500 off!). Examples appear below (this is not an endorsement of these products).

Microsoft XP Professional — $60.
Symantec AntiVirus software for five users — $45, a savings of $180.
Nonprofit WebBuilder — by B2P for $60, which includes web design tools for beginners and a year of web hosting.
Nonprofit Technology Listservs and e-Newsletters
Technology planning tips and worksheets for your organization.

For other sources of discounted brand-name software, see this page set up by ONE/Northwest.

Microsoft Viewers and Converters enable anyone with a PC, and some people with Macs, to read Microsoft files without the software.

Download the Benson Foundation's guide to incorporating technology planning — including computer upgrades, back-up procedures and networking — into any nonprofit organization’s strategic plan. This file is large and can take about 15 minutes to download using a dial-up modem.

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Other Helpful Sites

Instant literal translatations of languages and web pages is available at FreeTranslation. Also at altavista.

This urban legends site at is a good page to use before you follow anonymous advice about a computer virus, software bug, online petition or other suspect topic. If you remember recent hoaxes, like the one telling people to delete a file that was really a necessary component of Windows, you will understand why this site is so helpful.

A lot of different calculators for comparing cities, crime, schools, salaries, etc at For example, compare Waynesville, NC and Los Angeles, CA.

For inspiration regarding the power of the Internet to relate a story, see, particularly the "Stories" section.

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PART 3: Local and Government Sites

NC Legislature — Everything about it, including access to all state statutes. Plus — North Carolina General Assembly and Information.

NC Governor's page —North Carolina Governor's page. Example of a useless state page. — A tremendous state agency links page. Links to local NC government sites. —The best comprehensive government search link. FirstGov's Nonprofit Gateway is a network of links to Federal government information and services.

Thomas - The best place for federal legislative information. Library of Congress. Ask a Librarian.

LSU Listing —Every U.S. Agency or Office in the U.S. For example, search “housing”.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) — Search for government grants.

Find Assistance Programs using a variety of criteria, including project beneficiary, issue, agency, etc.

The Federal Register is important, but not very reader friendly, so consider The Grantsmanship Center for updates on funding for nonprofits.

Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN)

Directory web hosting services to nonprofits
Place a link to an existing website for free
Dial-up and e-mail services
United Way of Asheville & Buncombe County Media Directory for nonprofits
Coming soon: a site for WNC nonprofits called "Route 501(c)(3)"

For a collection of resources in one place, is a good reference. Here is their page on Asheville, as an example.

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PART 4: Advanced interpretation, manipulation and access to online information

Now, a couple of case studies.

Case Study 1: Data Supporting the Need for Economic Development on "The Block"

The US Census site, a terrific source of demographic statistics and information.

US Census maps show every Census Tract, Block Group and street in Asheville. See "Census 2000 Block Maps" and download example. Here is a Census guide to downloading and using the maps. will direct you toward other government agencies which have detailed, specialized data online.
American FactFinder is the site to use to quickly generate detailed data, such as this comma delimited file to download and open in Excel.
Here's what the imported data looked like, and what was found after the math was done (see highlighted cells in Excel file to download).
Schedule on the site that is helpful for determining what data is currently available.

Case Study 2: Freedom of Information Act

NC Public Records Law
Actual letter using Open Records Request

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This workshop presented with support from the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina and the New Leaf Fund.




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