The Seattle Foundation has unveiled a new Web site designed to provide prospective donors with crucial information about some 675 nonprofit organizations in Seattle and the surrounding Kings County, Washington area, according to a Seattle Times (ST) news story Wednesday, September 8.

The story, as well as a related article from The New York Times, is posted on the foundation’s Web site.

The foundation’s new online Giving Center contains the results of assessments of local nonprofit groups that were previously available only to its clients. Now anyone can search the Web site free by location, mission, key words or other criteria to match their charitable interests, or can simply look for organizations active in specific philanthropic areas.

The Seattle Foundation makes grants on behalf of more than 500 clients who maintain donor-advised funds, and also manages 650 other funds set up as bequests or endowments. It has combined assets approaching $600 million, and awards approximately $48 million in grants each year, according to the ST.

Accessing information about a nonprofit organization on the new Web site is easy, and the information available about a specific group can serve as a launch pad for further investigation and due diligence by a potential donor.

Say a donor is interested in arts education, but is not familiar with Seattle organizations active in this area. The donor can go the Web site, enter the Giving Center, click on Arts Education in the Arts & Culture box and immediately see three groups listed, with a link to More Organizations Involved in Arts Education. There the donor will find 52 groups that have been vetted by the foundation. For each nonprofit, there is information about its programs and recent successes and current challenges; an evaluation of the organization and its history with the foundation; a snapshot of its most recent financials; and a list of similar organizations.

The ST article said that the foundation’s Web site was part of its effort to attract new donors, as investments plummeted during the recession. It said that Norm Rice, the foundation’s head, and his board envisioned the site as a way to connect potential donors with local nonprofits organizations.

“There is clearly a large desire by our donors to be informed and engaged,” Rice told the newspaper. “A Web site that allows them to explore, to investigate and to change is highly compelling, especially for new donors who have a whole different experience in computers and technology.”

The site also shows how a nonprofit group’s work links to the Seattle Foundation’s overall strategy, the paper said. The strategy is to focus on seven sectors that contribute to the health of the Seattle community: arts and culture, basic needs, economy, education, environment, health/wellness and neighborhoods.

Michael S. Fischer (msf7@columbia.edu) is a New York-based financial writer and editor and a frequent contributor to WealthManagerWeb.com.