Building Trust With A Target Funder

October 3, 2016       The NonProfit Times      

No matter how good a grant proposal is, it won’t succeed unless the funder has confidence in the applicant organization. When you have a solid relationship with a foundation or corporate funder, your proposal is the starting point for discussion.

According to Barbara Floersch, executive director of The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, at the federal level, an assessment of your organization must demonstrate a clean, responsible track record to keep your proposal in the running. Every member of your organization’s staff and board has a role in building funder confidence. They are all members of your grants team.

Board members and top-level staff keep the organization on track. They ensure programmatic and financial integrity, communicate with the community, and build relationships with colleague organizations, supporters, and grantmakers. If reports are late, funds are misappropriated, services are shoddy, or community relations are contentious, the buck stops at the top, she said.

Floersch, who is author of “Grantsmanship: Program Planning & Proposal Writing,” said that when staff members who implement programs know their field, treat constituents and colleagues respectfully, and go the extra mile to produce good results, the word spreads and program reports shine. These resident subject-matter experts ensure that the best interests of the organization’s constituents are reflected in the grant proposal’s program plan.

If you don’t have a healthy appreciation for the sticklers in the financial department, reconsider. The fastidious nickel-and-diming, nagging for receipts, and questioning of charges is a gift to your organization. Good audits, accurate financial reports, and pristine financial records don’t just happen. The financial staff make sure the organization is strictly in line with funding requirements, and that grant application budgets are reasonable, reflect the narrative, and add up, according to Floersch.

A cheerful, efficient receptionist, a maintenance person who takes pride in cleanliness and order, an office manager who keeps the wheels turning in the same direction — each and every person either promotes confidence in your organization, or chips away at the hard earned respect others have built.

A solid grant proposal is essential, but it’s only one piece of the equation. While a smaller team may pull together the actual grant request, your entire organization is the grants team. © Copyright 2016 The Grantsmanship Center. All rights reserved.