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Philanthropy Classification System FAQs

  1. What has changed?

    The index terms in the three categories Fields of Interest (Grantmaker Search) and Subjects and Recipient Type (Grants Search) have been updated. In both Grantmaker and Grants searches, the terms from the former Types of Support category have been updated and divided into two new categories: Transaction Type terms describe how an organization is providing or receiving support, and Support Strategy terms describe how the goals of a program or grant are being implemented or supported. Changes and additions to these lists of terms better reflect the current work of nonprofits, but many common terms have not changed.

  2. Why was this change made?

    We updated the search terms to reflect recent revisions to Foundation Center’s Philanthropy Classification System (PCS), a system of codes (taxonomy) that describes the work of grantmakers, recipient organizations, and the philanthropic transactions between those entities. PCS provides a common language that can be used by social sector organizations around the world to communicate about their work — to each other and the world — in a consistent way.

  3. How should I search FDO with the new taxonomy?

    The process of searching FDO has not changed. You will still use the search term indexes in Fields of Interest (for Grantmaker Search) and Subjects and Recipient Type (for Grants Search). For either grantmaker or grant searches, you may also include Support Strategy and/or Transaction Type terms to your search. The way you interact with these indexes and make selections has not changed; only the terms have been updated.

  4. Where did my search terms go?

    Some search index terms may have been discontinued or replaced. In these cases, our editorial team has already mapped the outdated terms to the corresponding new terms in the indexes. You will be able to run any grantmaker or grant searches that you previously saved; you don’t need to manually update your saved searches. If you would like to explore the new terms, please visit the Philanthropy Classification System (PCS).

  5. Where can I see the full list of terms?

    Visit the Philanthropy Classification System (PCS) homepage to explore the taxonomy terms and structure.

  6. Can I provide feedback or submit a term for consideration?

    Absolutely! If there’s a term you have a question about or something you think we should consider adding, we encourage you to provide Foundation Center with your feedback using our Feedback Form or via email to

  7. What about my saved searches?

    Any grantmaker or grant searches that you previously saved will run with the new search terms without you needing to manually update your saved searches.

  8. Who can I contact for questions about search terms?

    For all questions about searching Foundation Directory Online, including making best use of the updated search terms, e-mail or call (800) 424-9836.

  9. Where can I find more information about these changes?

    Visit Foundation Center’s Philanthropy Classification System (PCS) homepage for all details on these changes, a PCS map to explore and discover new terms to help your search, and more.