“It’s all about establishing and maintaining relationships”
Really? Could it be that simple?
Well, probably not quite that simple, but it most certainly stands to reason; Foundations do not want to feel that they are the local ATM machine. You need to put yourself in their shoes for a moment. They are looking to build a partnership. Let’s stop and consider something as simple as a job search. Who is most likely to get the job? You bet, the candidate that had the connection is more likely to get the job over the other candidates.
Every chance you can, pick up the phone and give them a call. Be prepared to introduce yourself and a bit about your organization—perhaps your mission and vision. Further to your introduction, a couple of questions to ask would be “What is your mandate?” and “When is your funding cycle?” And invite them for a site visit if appropriate. With these simple questions, you have accomplished three things. You have started to establish a relationship; you have gotten more information on their giving interest; and you now know when to potentially send your Letter of Inquiry.
That’s all good and fine when you have a phone number, but what about all the Foundations that don’t have a phone number—now what?
Don’t give up yet. Who do you know? Who do your colleagues know? your volunteers? your Board Members? Pull those networking skills out of your back pocket and dust them off.
Seeing Foundations as people instead of a bank can go a long way in developing and maintaining relationships with Funders, and increase your likelihood of getting that funding.
By Kathie Murphy, CPHR