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March Shouldn’t Have to be Maddening: How to Build and Keep Strong Relationships with Grantors

Building Relationships with Grantors

How about those Loyola Ramblers? The Cinderella team or underdog (pun intended as they are part of the wolf family) has made it to the Final Four. How can you compete for significant grant funding and come out a winner, too?

It probably is not much of a surprise that strong relationships with grantors are a necessity to produce significant funding and an effective partnership. How exactly do we build those relationships? Where do we start?

Whether you’ve only dabbled in communicating with grantors or you need a helpful refresher, here are some tips to building strong relationships:

Establish mutuality. Mutual focus areas, goals, and measurability of success can help you find the right grantor fit and strengthen a relationship. Finding this synergy, helps focus time on sources that are most likely to fund your mission. Secondly, the time/resource allocation to reporting should be proportionate to monies granted for it to truly be worth the nonprofit’s while.

Get to know the grantor and vice versa. For a strong relationship to exist between parties, develop a complete expertise of your grantor. Know its key players, its mission, its values, and equally as important, know yours as well. Take the necessary time to research and explore what each of you has to offer. Reach out ot your Board Members and volunteers to see who might have a personal connection with the grantor. Set up a phone call to get to know one another and to discuss in further detail how your mission, program, or specific project aligns with the grantor. Share why your organization is the expert in providing a specific social solution It’s okay and encouraged to ask what project/programs the grantor would be interested in funding and to what financial extent. Prepping for this call should also include a glance at recent 990’s to see what similar missions/projects have been funded for other nonprofits and at what levels.

Be transparent and judicious. Everyone wants a successful relationship, but sometimes granting entities are not the right fit. When discussing the possibilities with grantors, be completely transparent; get straight to the point by stating what you need funded so they can see if it’s a good fit for them, too. It’s better to know up front than to continue to allocate time towards lengthy grant processes that will never deliver that ROI. There are plenty of fish in the sea. Shocking as it may sound, it may be smarter to cross a grantor off the list that isn’t the right fit.

Write the grant according to preliminary calls, research, and specifications. With all of the prep work complete, be sure to abide by established grantor deadlines. Follow all specifications and requests, and ensure your supporting documents are easy to locate and follow for the reader. Email your grantor contact to let them know your submission is on its way. In many instances, it is also helpful to have the board member of volunteer who is connected with the grantor to make a touch point at this time.

Keep the relationship current. Aside from the standard thank you letter and check presentation, stewarding the grant throughout the year is critical to deepening the relationship and to repeat or greater future funding. Create an organized schedule to show grantors their funding in action through tours/events and for digital or printed summary reports with stories/quotes. Involve board members in the process as appropriate. If your program/project has timeline adjustments, be sure to keep the grantor informed, so that together you can work towards success

For more tips, visit us as and shoot us a question or inquiry

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