Yes, relationships matter in grant seeking
Relationships,relationships, relationships. That was the refrain of the “Meet the Funders” AFP panel I moderated Thursday.
The panelists included the Managing Director of Community Relations for Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, the Community Affairs Manager of Textron, Inc. and Communications Manager for the Global Brand Relations Division of ALEX AND ANI.
This panel of funders encouraged grant seekers to make contact in almost all cases before sending a gift request. They wanted to know about the organizations they were considering. Not knowing anything about the sending organization or having any prior contact pushed many a grant request deeper into the pile.
Our panel was very generous about their willingness to talk to donation seekers. They wanted to help the caller determine if their programs fit within their giving strategy. And they wanted to save organizations the time of applying for a grant for which they would never be eligible.
Whether to pick up the phone or make the first connection via email was largely a personal preference.
They also welcomed conversations with those who were turned down to provide feedback.
Of course, there are institutional funders out there who don’t want contact beyond their online forms or letters of intent. They’ll say so.
Otherwise, try a call and have a conversation with a real person before investing all of your time and energy in sending a blind proposal.