Foundation Directory Online vs. FoundationSearch: In-Depth Analysis & Review

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November 7, 2022

Last Updated:

January 18, 2023

Foundation Directory Online (FDO) and FoundationSearch are two powerful and popular tools frequently utilized by nonprofit organizations to identify funding opportunities and learn about potential funders. When comparing Foundation Directory Online vs. FoundationSearch, it is important to take into account both platforms’ features as well as their different pricing structures.

This article will help you understand which platform will provide you with the greatest value and which will best help your nonprofit spark growth and support a strong fundraising program for years to come.

Let’s begin!

Foundation Directory Online vs. FoundationSearch Features Compared


You may be asking: Is Foundation Directory Online worth it? Is FoundationSearch worth it? What is it about these platforms that makes them worthwhile?

First thing’s first—let’s get acquainted with the key features and functions associated with FDO and FoundationSearch.

1. Finding Foundations and RFPs

FDO’s major feature is its grantmaker search tool. With the search feature, users get instant access to a variety of grantmakers to support a variety of different programs, projects, and needs.

FDO’s search feature retrieves essential information about thousands of prospective grantmakers including private and independent foundations, corporate foundations, U.S. federal funders, public charities, and international foundations.

A truly unique aspect of FDO’s search capabilities are the accessible maps and charts that help nonprofits identify grantmaking trends based on region. It also makes available information about grant size so that nonprofits understand how to best focus their requests.

However, while FDO does offer some information regarding grant opportunities, it does not provide access to current RFPs.

Foundation Directory Online

FoundationSearch, much like FDO, offers a comprehensive database of over 120,000 foundations.

FoundationSearch’s search function allows users to search for grantmaking organizations by granting category and focus area (e.g. education, health, human services, etc.), geographic area, foundation type (private foundations, public charities, company sponsored foundations, and community foundations), assets and income range, and type of support (e.g. annual campaigns, emergency funds, seed funding, research funding, etc.).

FoundationSearch also offers a function called “My Best Prospects”. The tool offers very basic foundation matching, finding grantmakers that best align with an organization’s mission and objectives.

FoundationSearch, while offering a large database of private foundations, is limited in its scope compared to other grant discovery platforms. FoundationSearch does not offer a database for active RFPs or grant opportunities.


2. Tracking Prospects and Submissions 

FDO also allows users to keep track of prospect research through the platform's My FDO tool.

Through My FDO users can access saved searches, favorites, tags, and alerts. Additionally, the tool enables users to evaluate funders and keep track of tasks associated with prospecting and applying for opportunities via the Assessment Tool, which guides users through the evaluation process and identifies if an opportunity is a good match.

Through the Task function, FDO allows users to manage a variety of items that are necessary to secure a given grant, including a task assignment function, deadline tracker, progress tracker, and the ability to take notes and write comments associated with the opportunity.

My FDO tool

FDO, however, does not provide support in terms of tracking active or up to date information about grant opportunities or RFPs.

While FDO does offer comprehensive features, a nonprofit organization may find themselves spending a significant amount of time putting in additional effort and research to confirm when RFPs are active or if a foundation has any current opportunities available.

When these opportunities are identified, FDO cannot provide support that would help connect users with best fit opportunities or provide updates on the status of certain RFPs and changes to the organization’s priorities or requirements.

Through FoundationSearch’s “My Prospect Manager” tool, users can create projects and track prospects they identify.

Users can create a special project representing a specific funding area or need for their organization, keeping track of the total funding amount needed and the deadline by which funding will need to be obtained. Users can link prospects they identify to the project, keeping track of the totality of the searches assigned to the specific project that requires funding.

My Prospect Manager is great for self tracking and organizing projects, but FoundationSearch (like FDO) does not provide any real time updates or tracking in regard to active RFPs, meaning users will still have to do some additional leg work to ensure they are on top of the organization’s priorities, requirements, and deadlines.

3. Collaboration and Reporting

FDO does not have extensive multi-user capabilities. While My FDO enables users to track processes and create projects, the only collaborative function that is available in My FDO is the “tasks” feature, allowing multi-user organizations to assign and track tasks for special projects or proposals.

FDO does allow users to export projects and information users track in the MyFDO into reports downloadable as PDF or CSV files.

FoundationSearch also does not have many multi-user capabilities. Multiple users at an organization can access the platform, however only one user can utilize the platform at a time. Through the “My Prospect Manager” tool, different users can collaborate and leave notes and create actions regarding different projects.

FoundationSearch My Prospect Manager tool

4. Customer Support

FDO has a chat feature that allows customers to get in touch with FDO with any questions or concerns.

While it states that it is a chat feature, it functions as more of a contact form, directing users with questions to fill out the form with their name, e-mail, and description of the issue. Once the user has filled out the form and submitted it, the dialogue initiates via email.

FoundationSearch offers several options for customer support based on user needs.

The platform has a Help Desk that provides members with support for registration, access and guidance with resources, general account questions, and registration for training, webinars, and other educational development opportunities offered through FoundationSearch.

FoundationSearch Customer Support

FoundationSearch has a 1-800 number where users can ask any immediate questions toll free as well as an email for less urgent questions that can await a response. For more complex questions, FoundationSearch also offers a comprehensive FAQ and help documents that provide in-depth explanations on the platform’s processes and functions.

Foundation Directory Online vs. FoundationSearch Pricing Compared

Price tag

Now that you understand the key features of both Foundation Directory Online and FoundationSearch, you are well on your way to identifying the type of grant discovery platform that will best help your organization grow.

Let us take a brief look at the pricing structures offered by both platforms.

FDO has three subscription tiers from which to choose from—FDO Essential, FDO Professional, and FDO Enterprise.

FDO Essential is a great option for smaller nonprofits looking for foundation and corporate giving opportunities whose grant team consists of only a few professionals and writers. FDO Essential is also most appropriate for organizations who are looking to get more insight into funders and not necessarily focused on discovering or identifying actual RFPs or opportunities. FDO Essential can support a modest team, up to 10 users.

FDO Essential

Pricing for FDO Essential is as follows:

  • $758.00/two years or $31.58/month
  • $399.00/year or $33.25/month
  • $49.99 billed monthly with the option to cancel at anytime

FDO Professional is the best option for nonprofit organizations who are looking to access more grantmaker profiles, tap into a bigger network of professionals and leaders, and focus on finding grant opportunities and RFPs. This tier opens up the entire database to users with over 242,000 grantmaker profiles and over 2 million grant opportunities.

FDO Professional

Pricing for FDO Professional is as follows:

  • $2,848.00/two years or $118.67/month
  • $1,499.00/year or $124.92/month
  • $199.99 bill monthly with the option to cancel at anytime

See below for a sample of the FDO Professional foundation profile.

FDO Professional Foundation profile

For large nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, or foundations, FDO offers customizable pricing and features at special rates based on the needs, size, or objectives of the specific nonprofit organization. Foundation Directory Online pricing at this tier is customized to specific organizations.

You can contact FDO directly to receive a quote and begin the process of connecting your organization to their platform.

FoundationSearch does not have a formal pricing structure. Metasoft, FoundationSearch’s parent company, offers varying price options dependent on the specific needs of the organization.

Metasoft offers subscription packages with varying lengths ranging between 1 and 5 years. Basic subscriptions are offered to nonprofit organizations, government, for-profit, and consulting agencies. You can contact FoundationSearch directly to obtain a quote.

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What Are Customers Saying About Foundation Directory Online and FoundationSearch?

Customer Rating

Reading through these analyses of Foundation Directory Online and FoundationSearch can feel overwhelming. Even after understanding the full scope of their pricing options and reviewing each platform's key features it can still be difficult to ascertain which product would be most useful to your organization.

Take a look at some of the firsthand accounts of FDO and FoundationSearch users and draw from their experiences and testimonials to help make your decision.

Customer reviews for FDO were generally positive. After reviewing many user reviews of the platform, it was evident that customers loved the search engine, praising the amount of information and details available for the many grantmaking organizations that are available on the platform.

However, while the customers had an overall positive experience with the platform, several reviews indicated that it is unclear how often content is updated and that the search feature can sometimes bring up too many queries, making it difficult to ascertain which information is important and which results would be best suited to the user’s needs.

Foundation Directory Online Pros and Cons

After reviewing customer feedback on FoundationSearch, it was evident that customers were pleased with the features the platform offered, particularly the search function.

Users praised FoundationSearch’s customer service and support and noted that it was a platform that was easy to use and understand.

However, some users did note that FoundationSearch could make improvements to their layout and the general design of the platform for easier readability. Moreover, they indicated that for organizations that do not seek grants for a wide variety of needs or projects, FoundationSearch’s price point may be too high—however for an organization that requires access to a broad range of opportunities and funders, FoundationSearch provides excellent value for the price.


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Is There a Better FDO or FoundationSearch Alternative? Instrumentl Explained


One important thing to note when shopping around for the best foundation or grant discovery tool to support your organization’s fundraising initiatives is that Foundation Directory Online and FoundationSearch are only two of the platforms that are available.

There are many alternative resources and tools you can utilize as you build out a robust fundraising program.

One of the most valuable online grant discovery platforms that combines the very best features of both FDO and FoundationSearch at a competitive price is Instrumentl.

Instrumentl is a tool for grant writers, managers, and nonprofit professionals to prospect, track, and manage grants all within one easy to use and intuitive tool.


In fact, Instrumentl is one of the most comprehensive and intuitive fundraising tools available today.

Instrumentl goes beyond FDO and FoundationSearch by offering an experience completely tailored to the mission and overall objectives of the user organization. Instrumentl assesses and updates grant opportunities 24/7 to ensure users are connected to the very best opportunities and funders that are aligned with their priorities.

Instrumentl also provides an expansive array of resources including seminars and workshops designed to develop professional grant writing expertise and fundraising skills.


What really sets Instrumentl apart from its competitors is its strong focus on active grant opportunities and RFPs. While it functions as a foundation and grantmaker search tool, Instrumentl makes it a priority to offer users a search function specifically for active grant opportunities, giving users the option to search RFPs by program or project type or focus (e.g. capacity building grants, grants for museums, etc.).

Instrumentl’s commitment to keeping a consistently updated database helps position users for success.

Instrumentl provides a robust assortment of features not included in FDO and FoundationSearch’s offerings, including:

  • Deadline reminders and updates
  • Intelligent matching to RFPs and funders
  • Tracking with enriched RFP and funder information including active notification of changes to RFP deadlines and changes in priorities
  • Enabling workflows for efficient prospecting and collaboration between users
  • Active RFP data connection to grantmaker profiles.
Instrumentl Features

Instrumentl makes sure that these crucial grantseeking tools are accessible at a price that works for users. With plans starting at $195/month, Instrumentl is able to offer in-depth services at a reasonable price so that nonprofits can take advantage of their resources.

Wrapping Up: Foundation Directory Online vs. FoundationSearch: In-Depth Analysis & Review


With the detailed analyses available in this article, you now have all the information you need to identify which grant discovery platform is best for your organization.

Visit Instrumentl’s website today to start your 14-day free trial. Or if you’re not ready, read this page to learn 8 things only Instrumentl can do.

What are you waiting for? Time to get started!

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Instrumentl team

Instrumentl is the all-in-one grant management tool for nonprofits and consultants who want to find and win more grants without the stress of juggling grant work through disparate tools and sticky notes.

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