Sandy Pon | Movers & Shakers 2018 – Digital Developers

Even for trained information professionals, the world of grants can feel intimidating and opaque. Asking for money is never easy, but information clearinghouses such as the Foundation Center can provide useful insight and guidance, thanks to the efforts of specialists like Sandy Pon.
Sandy Pon

CURRENT POSITION

GrantSpace Specialist, Foundation Center, New York

DEGREE

MLS, University of Arizona, 2002

FOLLOW

Foundation Center; GrantSpace

Photo by Douglas Gritzmacher

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Fund Finder

Even for trained information professionals, the world of grants can feel intimidating and opaque. Asking for money is never easy, but information clearinghouses such as the Foundation Center can provide useful insight and guidance, thanks to the efforts of specialists like Sandy Pon.

When librarians have a plan, but not the funding to match, they can reach out to Pon and her team through GrantSpace.org, a service of the center that helps make matches between nonprofits with promising ideas and the funders who can help get them off the ground.

“In a space where there is a lot of information to digest and a risk of being scammed, we offer people direction and clarity so they can make decisions and know how to proceed,” says Pon.

While studying microbiology in college, Pon worked as a page at the Tucson Pima Public Library, AZ. That work drew her back later, and after getting her MLS and a taste of life in an academic library, Pon moved to the center’s Atlanta offices. As a librarian there, she taught grant-writing workshops and helped nonprofits new and old find potential funders, donors, and partners.

After several years on the front lines, in 2009 Pon began working remotely for the Foundation Center mother ship, based in New York City, overseeing the development of content such as tutorials, blog posts, and expert interviews for the GrantSpace portal and managing the efforts of research librarians at GrantSpace’s regional arms across the United States.

“Sandy’s behind-the-scenes role has had a massive impact supporting the information literacy needs of the nonprofit and social sector [through] GrantSpace.org and Ask Us…both freely available public resources,” says Kate Tkacik, the center’s director of network engagement (and a 2013 Mover & Shaker). According to Tkacik, in 2017 Ask Us responded via chat or email to 10,119 inquiries and provided another 92,398 self-served responses; GrantSpace.org had more than 2.5 million user sessions. Pon also has a leading role in the current GrantSpace redesign, scheduled to launch in late spring 2018.

While grant funding can seem tight to many librarians, there are, says Pon, more sources available than ever before. The key lies in understanding where to look—and knowing when to ask for help. “Focus heavily on impact—how your constituents’ lives are better from your services—and figure out how to measure it and capture it in compelling stories,” says Pon. “The funding story is…about connecting funders to your constituents.”

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