As part of the University Library Associates program, all ULAs complete a second year project, typically outside of their “home” library. Frequently, ULAs choose to explore another area of the library, or a different library on campus – but I elected to work with the Office of University Development (OUD) in an effort to forge stronger links between my previous professional experience as an institutional gifts officer at the California Academy of Sciences and my MSI degree by exploring the intersection between libraries and development departments.
I was working with OUD’s Foundation Relations division to create content for their new information portal for faculty, foundations.umich.edu (which requires a UMich log-in). My goal was to create foundation profiles that would synthesize large amounts of information and clarify the foundation’s interests and application process to decrease the barriers to faculty application.
I pulled together information from a variety of sources, including internal research from Development, publicly available foundation funding activities, and coverage of limited submissions/managed foundation from the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects. I also utilized library resources such as Foundation Directory Online and the Chronicle of Philanthropy, as well as scouring the foundations’ web presence through their sites and social media accounts.
I would then synthesize this massive amount of information into a concise and palatable web profile tailored toward faculty researchers who might be asking themselves, “Does my research align with Foundation X’s mission, and could we be a funding match?”
A collaboration between librarians and development officers seems both natural and fruitful. There is a trove of information out there, and synthesizing it can certainly be aided by development’s expert knowledge of the funding relationships and a librarian’s capacity for effective information organization. My supervisor likened the process to the resource pyramid for evidence-based medicine:
And when I thought about the process for actually creating these foundation profiles, it became clear to me that I too was elaborating on building blocks of knowledge about specific funders, and using each new building block to inform the next, so I came up with a development evidence pyramid:
I also was able to draw useful parallels from both my coursework at the School of Information and my professional experience as a University Library Associate:
- Understanding your audience is paramount: information has to be timely & relevant
- Iterate: Fail quickly and improve work based on feedback.
- Awareness is crucial: a resource is pointless if no one knows about it.
TL;DR: Are you a faculty member (or do you work with faculty members) and are seeking funding? Explore this resource!!
And, if you have the time, swing by the Hatcher Gallery today from 10 am to noon – the other ULAs and I will be presenting on our projects!