9 Relationship Challenges With Foundations

Obtaining financial support from a foundation can be a rigorous, if ultimately rewarding, exercise. Meeting strict criteria, making a good impression and finding a good fit with foundation objectives require hard work, genuine diligence.

Once the funding is secured, however, there can be a tendency to sit back and feel good about a job well done, and then about spending the largesse. That is a natural reaction, but it is one to be studiously avoided.

During the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) international fundraising conference, Rebecca Lake of World Wildlife Fund-USA and Rebecca Girvin-Argon of James Madison’s Montpelier cautioned about the challenges nonprofits face after they have landed foundation money.

These challenges, if not handled correctly, can damage both an organization’s credibility and its ability to fundraise. Those challenges include:
* Staff changes. When they occur, keep the donor(s) informed;
* Crises. Use transparency to build trust;
* Slow spending. Ask for no cost extensions of budget modifications; and,
* Lack of internal coordination. Strengthen team building and influence.

Other ways of keeping a relationship strong include:
* Cultivate connections on multiple levels;
* Coordinate internally;
* Exceed expectations;
* Personalize the approach; and,
* Be thoughtful about what the foundations staffers will need for their internal requirements.