There’s a lot of interest in writing grants to help fund projects, programs and vision.
Before you begin the process of actually writing the grant, here are some reminders:
• Do Your Homework with the Foundation
Learn all you can about the foundation. Ask questions like: What is their vision and passion? What have they funded in the past? Do you have a contact or relationship with someone at the foundation? What is the technical process in submitting an application? Can you develop a connection or introduction to someone on the board or in the organization that you can reach out to? Where to the funds come from and why did the foundation begin?
Ask lot’s of questions first. This will help you to determine if you are a potential fit. Sometimes what you are presenting is completely out of line and sync with the foundations vision. Don’t waste your time or their time if there’s not a connection. Do your homework first.
• Ask Permission
Once you’ve done your homework, if you think there’s a potential partnership, contact them and ask permission to submit an application. Ask them about their process and ask them what they would like to receive and when.
Be sure to work on their timeline and in the format they prefer. They probably receive a lot of inquiries. Don’t make it difficult.
• Gather Information
Many times, foundations will ask for your organizations organizational documents, your financial history, your current budget, your board of directors names, etc… Be prepared to gather the information that will help them to make an informed decision. Present this in a clear, concise way in the format they prefer.
• Share Your Need and your Vision
Determine if you are submitting your application electronically, in print or in person. This will determine how you prepare. Don’t spend all of your time with all the details. Provide the details, but focus on the vision and invite them to join you in helping to fulfill that vision. Don’t try to manipulate or push them. Invite them to partner with you. Again, ask questions. They may have much more to offer than just financial resources. Invite them to the table.
Once you’ve connected in partnership, communicate with them on the progress of the project. Communicate clearly and consistently.
Once the project is completed, report. Sometimes they will let you know what format this needs to be in or when it needs to be in. Do what is asked and required, but also share about the impact, the life change and thank them for their trust and partnership. If you don’t do this well, you will have difficulty approaching them again in the future with another opportunity.
Also, ask them if their participation with you is public or private. Some foundations don’t want their name splashed all over social media or in print. Ask permission if you’re going to mention them, and honor their request, whatever that might be.
Remember, fundraising is about relationships. This is true with foundations as well. They want to invest their resources wisely and they might want to invest in you. Take the time to get to know the heart of the foundation and what it is that they are all about. If it aligns, it might be the start of a beautiful relationship!
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