Don’t Forget to Stay in Touch

As with any relationship, if you value it, you maintain it. The grant request process can entail 6 to 12 months of courting: correspondence, visits, phone calls, and entertainment. When it’s over, both parties may suffer donor fatigue; however, if you have received a donation and would like to be considered to be a recipient in the future, it is your responsibility to let the donor know you appreciate their patronage. The higher the amount a donor has given, the more important it is to ensure you maintain your relationship.
Here are 6 ways to stay in touch with your donor, ensuring you stay in their minds for the next grant opportunity.

  1. Send thank you letters from the Executive Director, President and the Board of Directors – when the grant is awarded and when the project is complete.
  2. Mention all major donors in any of your current or future newsletters, publications, or media releases.
  3. Send or hand-deliver a personal invitation (not a generic letter addressed to all those involved) to celebrations or events spotlighting your funded project.
  4. Send or hand-deliver a personal invitation to any events specifically recognizing the donors.
  5. Provide the donor with a photograph, plaque, or other tribute of the project.
  6. Send the donor updates on the project, including success stories, copies of publicity, or anything that relates to the project.

 

Greg Hind
Hind Foundation

Keep Your House in Order

Consistent delays in receiving funding may be caused by your organization’s problems, lack of policies, poor communication, or negligence. Quite often within organizations, an individual in charge of acquiring funding will leave that organization, and along with him (or her), all of their due diligence in acquiring the funding leaves as well.

In order to avoid this catastrophe, keep your house in order by creating a procedure for funding or donor requests, including keeping formal records of the donor’s organization, contacts within the organization, and all communication to date. Additionally, the person responsible for grants or account development should communicate details to the Board, the president or executive director regarding all significant requests. It’s also a good safeguard to have more than one person within your organization establish a connection with the donor or the donor’s representative.

Be sure that any change in high-level administration, the Board of Directors, or the organization itself is communicated with the donor before it becomes public. Proactive, open lines of communication lend a sense of openness and candor. Remember – to receive sizable grants, you must form a partnership based on trust and confidence between both parties.

 

Greg Hind
Hind Foundation

Build Relationships: Follow up, Thank You, and Appreciate

The golden rule in requesting funds – keep in touch, from the moment the first introduction is made. Continuous communication throughout the process is essential in building a relationship with an individual or organization that could potentially be a long-time partner. Just as in any good relationship, follow-through, follow up, and showing appreciation are essential tasks in building a positive relationship with donors.

If a deadline is provided by the donor, meet the deadline. If a response is requested by the donor, get back to them within 24 hours. Show the potential donor that their grant is as much a priority to you as you hope your project is to them. The biggest mistake you can make is being unresponsive and then providing an excuse; rather, communicate the reasons for your delay and set expectations for when you can respond or deliver information. Remember, you are competing against other organizations. Those who are earnest, respond promptly, and make an effort to keep things moving forward generally are rewarded.

 

Greg Hind
Hind Foundation

One Size Grant Does Not Fit All

Understand the differences in approaching different types of donors. Private foundations, individuals, corporations, government entities, and community foundations each have a preferred – and even formal – process.

Conduct thorough research to determine which donors are most likely to identify with your goals; study their history of financial support and carefully review any stated areas of funding. Will your grant application fit within their stated scope of funding? If not, don’t ask. You will be wasting your time and resources that can be used for better return on investment.

When you find a foundation or organization that matches your goals, be sure you know what information they require and the format in which they require it.

Keep in mind that in some cases, your project or program’s fit won’t be obvious to the donor. It’s up to you to show how your project could meet the requirements for funding. Be honest with the fact that your request may not meet all the requirements. A good effort may provide the basis for consideration.

Greg Hind
Hind Foundation