June 18, 2018

Sandy Pon | Movers & Shakers 2018 – Digital Developers

Sandy Pon


GrantSpace Specialist, Foundation Center, New York


MLS, University of Arizona, 2002


Foundation Center; GrantSpace

Photo by Douglas Gritzmacher


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.”

This article was published in Library Journal's March 15, 2018 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Fund Your Library: Tools and Tactics for Getting to Yes!
Whether you’re going to voters, city councils, school boards, college board of directors, or any other funder, the fundamental issues are the same: how do you convince the stewards of a limited budget that the library is their best investment?
Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  4. Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media, per our Terms of Use.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind