When you first enter the Foundation Directory Online, you want to focus on the choices at the topc of the screen:
You will probably want to search either Grantmakers (the actual foundations that award grants) or Grants (for grants that have been awarded).
So you've done your search and now what? First, it may take several tries, playing around with index terms and types of support, to get a reasonable number of results. Once you feel comfortable with your list, look at some of the profiles. Here's the beginning of the profile for the American Library Association:
Some profiles will have more information than others, but all of them will outline their program areas and they should have some information about how to apply.
Charting Grants and Mapping Grants can be interesting because you can get a visual of where the grantmaker has funded and in what areas. You can see on the right both a chart and a map.
One of the most important things: Once you have found an interesting funder, Print/Save Record. As long as you are in the same search, the system will save those records you indicate. Then you can print them, or email them to yourself. That way, you can look over your prospects later and you won't have to start from scratch when you want to find those same grantmakers.
Notice also that there is a tab to Search Grants. If you click on that tab, you can see a list of grants that grantmaker has funded.