Congratulations, you were awarded the grant. All those months of cultivating the foundation or corporation paid off. You’ve read the agreement letter, signed the contract, and noted the report deadlines on your grants calendar.
Now you’re starting to look at the many ways to increase your chances of renewing the grant or securing another grant from the same funder when this one is done — by delivering excellent work, for example, and submitting reports on time.
But according to Holly Thompson, contributing editor for The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, Calif., grantees often neglect one of the most important ways to increase the odds. “Once you get the check, don’t disappear down a rabbit hole,” said Thompson. “Stay in touch with your funder.“
Foundation and corporate grant-makers are busy people. They can’t always get to their phones or answer emails. When they do, they’re often rushed. “Funders have a lot to juggle,” said Thompson. “But they are humans, not ATMs. Like you, they’re helping their organizations pursue important missions. Treat funders as partners.”
Reach out to funders as you would to long-distance friends. Drop them a note to let them know about an exciting development in the program they’re supporting. Invite them to program events. Give them a call when you have big news. (It’s okay to leave good news on voice mail.) If you’ll be in their neighborhood, ask if you can stop by for a quick hello.
Don’t be afraid to tell them when a program is facing challenges or to ask them for advice. Funders do not want to be the last to know when there’s trouble.
A genuine, collaborative connection with funders is an important factor in securing support for your organization. And from years of experience, Thompson knows that it also makes your work more fulfilling.