What Grant Makers Wish You Knew
Nonprofit staff can be excellent at establishing relationships with major gift donors. They cultivate their donors, learn everything they can about them and invest time and energy in forging meaningful relationships. Unfortunately, the same often cannot be said when it comes to a nonprofit's relationship with potential grant donors.
It used to be that grant makers were kind of like the Wizard of Oz – they hid behind a curtain and didn't want to be seen. That's simply not the case any more though and there's definitely an openness today that didn't exist then. However, many nonprofits are still operating under the assumption that the grant maker is untouchable and therefore are not even taking the time in learning how to approach them properly.
So, what is it exactly that grant makers wish you knew? Here are just a few items for your consideration:
They like when nonprofits have done their homework and ensure that they are a good match before submitting an application.
They like communication. Don't let them hear from you just to ask for money. Stay in touch through your mailings, keep them informed and even call sometimes. This is especially true after a rejection! Be persistent. Sometimes a “no” can be interpreted as “not now.”
They like for you to follow their guidelines. As simple as it sounds, there are still nonprofits that send blanket proposals not bothering to check if the grant maker is even accepting applications at that time and not following the suggested guidelines.
You should also inquire about grant makers from other nonprofits you know – they often have some insider information that they're more than happy to share that could help get your foot in the door. Don't forget too that grant makers often have websites that detail their interests, plus their 990's will list who they have supported in the past. All of this is crucial information that can help you determine whether they're a suitable match for funding for your organization.
Be the nonprofit that the grant maker wants to work with. Go for it!