Establishing a direct connection and even an ongoing relationship with a funding organization is crucial for grant success. Relationship-building can take time, persistence, patience, and authenticity on your part. Like any relationship, balance your communication to not only gauge the funder’s interest in your impactful services, but also show how your interest in their funding priorities could lead to great partnerships together.
Establishing a direct connection with a funding organization is crucial for grant success. Here are 5 steps you can take to build a stronger relationship:
• Follow them on social media. This is possibly the simplest action you can take towards staying informed regarding a funder’s activities and letting a funder know you are interested.
• Add them to your mailing list. Consider adding the CEO and chief programs officer to your annual report mailing list. If the funders you are looking to deepen relationships with are local, send them invitations to events. The more times and different ways the funder becomes aware of who you are—the better.
• Play Six Degrees of Separation. Establish if anyone in your organization has connections with a funder. If someone from your board, staff, or constituents knows anyone who works at or is connected to the funder, find out if they get you an introduction or put in a good word?
• Letter of Introduction. If the funder is local, even regional, call and ask for an introduction meeting. Even if they do not accept unsolicited applications, send a letter with materials to introduce your organization. Explain how you connect with the foundation’s giving interests. Respect their boundaries, and do NOT ask for money. Instead, consider asking how the foundation selects who receives its grants.
• Do your research. Always research a foundation. Respect their process. Be confident that you are a good fit for them and vice versa. Be ready with talking points, and show you’ve spent time learning about them. Just like donor cultivation, make sure you are not always asking for something when communicating with a funder.
Funders prefer to speak to organizations directly. It provides an opportunity to establish an ongoing relationship, and – if the funder is open to it – it is a step towards developing trust, which will result in an increased likelihood of funding. Follow a funder’s contact instructions – always. If the grantmaker has not stated any preferences, it generally is safe to pursue a relationship with them.
Remember, relationship-building requires more than just persistent asking. Make sure to share your organization’s successes and show interest in their programs, too.
Williams Grant Writing (WGW) has the team, time, skills, and systems in place to act as your grant writing partner. WGW can help you research funding opportunities, review draft applications, apply for the grant funding, and help you stay on top of reporting and deadlines. WGW has a proven track record of connecting nonprofits to funding. Contact us today to see how we can help.