By Guest Blogger Matt Connor
There are few organizations out there not trying to actively build their connection with their community. Community partners, corporate sponsors, individual donors, the list goes on. Foundations can often be seen as large, closed off organizations, but building a relationship with them is just as important for the health of your organization.
What is your relationship and communication level with the funder?
A few months ago, I was helping an organization out with a grant application they had gotten rejected on in the past. In doing some research on it, I asked if they had contacted the funder for information recently. “No, you can do that?”
Absolutely! Many funders really seek out organizations that develop a strong relationship with them – or at the very least show interest in doing so. A few phone calls later, and I had gotten some crucial information from the director in charge of the grant, and a few leads on organizations they had funded in the past.
As a funder with the City, communication and relationship building with organizations was crucial. The grant application process for many of the funding sources is extremely transparent – it shouldn’t really matter. But in the long run, organizations with a good track record of communication allowed me to trust what they were saying, and any narrative in their applications were supplemented by a strong mental image of the actual work they were doing in the field. And when a new funding source that stresses innovation or doing something new and unorthodox, I know I can rely on the organizations I’m familiar with and trust. There are certainly foundations out there that discourage this, but none of them are going to hold it against you if you try to include them. It means a great deal as a funder to be able to go out and see the great job you’re doing with our resources!
Things that stick out: Applications out of the blue, mission creep
Things that stand out: Building on past success, expanding your horizons
Matt Connor has worked with housing organizations in Indiana for the last five years, focusing on grant writing and grant making. He is currently looking for great organizations that could use a leg up in their fundraising department, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with him on LinkedIn.