There’s more to grant writing than researching and submitting to grants. You may be surprised to hear that many grantmaking organizations actually want you to reach out and introduce your organization before submitting an application. Unless the funder specifically states not to contact them or provides you with no contact information, it’s always a great idea to get in touch. But when and how do you reach out? Here are the four steps you should take to start and maintain conversations with grant funders.
1. Introduce yourself and your organization
Not only will reaching out to the funder start the process of familiarizing them with your organization, but you stick out in their minds when you take this step. That first contact is a great opportunity to ask questions about the application process, the funder’s preferences, and to inquire whether the program you’re seeking funding for is something the organization would support.
Reaching out with a phone call or email is a good first step in introducing your organization. If you’re reaching out to a local grant funder, you have the advantage of being able to request an in-person meeting to make their acquaintance and put a face to your organization.
2. Follow up with funders after grant submission
After your initial contact, work on the grant application and get it submitted. Once submitted, if the funder allows you to follow up, reach out to check the status of your application – after leaving an appropriate amount of time for the funder to review the application, of course! This shows you’re earnest about creating a relationship with the funder, and you’re also reinforcing the importance of receiving funding to make your program successful.
3. Reach out to thank grant funders (even if they rejected your application)
When the grant funder sends word that your application was accepted or rejected, it’s a good idea to get in touch with them. If your application was accepted, give the funder a call and thank them for accepting your application. It’s a good idea to ask about any required progress reports you need to supply in order to accept the grant during this call. You may also want to further nurture your relationship with the funder by inviting representatives from their organization to visit to tour your facility or see your organization in action.
If your application was rejected, you’ll still want to reach out and thank the funder for considering your application. If the reviewer added any feedback on your application, thank them for their advice as well. If your application wasn’t offered feedback, now is a good opportunity to ask the funder how you could strengthen your application for consideration next time. Knowing exactly what the funder is looking for gives you a greater chance to have your program funded during the next grant cycle.
4. Stay in touch with funders after funding
Once you’ve received your funding, provide the funder with updates on the program. This goes beyond just providing them with required reports. Instead, consider this an opportunity to further cultivate your relationship with this funder in case there are opportunities to receive grants in the future. Send the funder handwritten thank-you notes, your newsletter, and even pictures of your staff hard at work making the community a better place. Grant funders want to trust that their money made a difference – showing them that your organization is a good steward of resources will demonstrate their faith in your organization was not misplaced!
Grant writing is more than just filling out an application and sending it in. Human connections make the process of applying for and winning grants easier. By keeping the channels of communication open between your organization and prospective grant funders, you’re creating relationships that can have some serious benefits for your organization now and in the future.