Got Research? 24/7 Chat at Maryland AskUsNow!

December 7, 2015

Guest Blog by Paul Chasen, Statewide Coordinator of Maryland AskUsNow!, Maryland AskUsNow!


AskUsNow! is the statewide interactive information service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week that uses the expertise of librarians to provide answers to questions, research guidance, and help navigating the internet. AskUsNow! is a cooperative service of Maryland libraries and available for any resident or student of Maryland.

In this day and age, we need all of the help we can get for our nonprofits, and we want that help in the fastest and easiest ways possible. Make an appointment to talk face-to-face. Give the 1-800 number a call. Even better: Call your favorite morning radio show and get their insight and advice. We have even gotten to the point where you can crowdsource for help (Go to or a Twitter event, and you’ll see what I mean).  


But does all help require a quick response? Am I truly getting nonjudgmental and objective answers when I go with the easiest approach? Maryland AskUsNow! is here to get you started, or even more started, on your research for your nonprofit.


Some questions you may want to consider asking:


1. Where do I find grants for my nonprofit?

2. How do I write a better grant proposal?

3. How do I fund a specific, one-time project?

4. How do I write a letter of inquiry?

5. How can I start a crowdfund?

6. How do I find data for my proposal?

7. Where can I sample proposal budgets?


What steps do I take to do research for my nonprofit at Maryland AskUsNow!?

  • Determine your need:  Your director asks you to find funding. Think about your nonprofit’s:

1.      fields of interest

2.      types of support

3.      geographic focus    

For instance, “I am looking for human services grants to fund one of my nonprofit’s projects.  The project involves feeding and giving shelter to the homeless in Rockville.  Where do I find these grants?”  Be prepared to block 30 minutes out of your schedule, and then…

  • Ask us!: Still unsure of what you need? Even if your initial question is not clear, we can help.  Be prepared to get interviewed by your chat librarian. Based on the conversation, they will find information for you, in and out of a library. 

  • Be honest: Tell the librarian where you looked and found information so far.  You will receive no emojis and giggles if you state Google or Wikipedia. We’re a nonjudgmental group! 

  • Have your library card number ready:  AskUsNow! can be used in complete anonymity or by identifying yourself with an email address. Having a library card is not a requirement; but, you may receive guidance towards how to get more information using library services.  Either way, the librarian will share resources that do or do not require a library card, and the librarian will explain why the resources are useful. You might be surprised by what your local library has to offer, and what is offered to Maryland library customers statewide! 

  • Don’t stress: You may get several links and titles during chat, but the librarian will give you time to review them. A librarian may also recommend additional research help from a librarian in your county. In this case, a librarian will find even more information after the chat is complete, and will send it to you by email. All of this is done from the comfort of your home or workspace. 

  • Thank the chat librarian!: Believe it or not, most of the librarians do more than just AskUsNow! and do not work 9-5 hours. They look forward to the one-on-one time.

Interested in getting started? Learn more about how Maryland AskUsNow! can provide quality research help at no cost, 24/7, here

Contributions to this post were made by Becca Starr, Support for Operations, Maryland AskUsNow! and Aryn Dagirmanjian, Grant Collection Manager, Enoch Pratt Free Library and State Library Resource Center.


Follow Maryland Nonprofits on Google+FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.
Looking for a new nonprofit career? Follow @MDNonprofitJobs.