Grants for Nonprofits: Build Relationships with Grantmakers | CharityHowTo


Grants for Nonprofits: Why Should You Build Relationships with Grantmakers? 

Submitting grant proposals for your nonprofit doesn’t have to be an impersonal action. 

It can very well be an entire process that also consists of a helpful relationship between you (the grant writer) and the grantmaker. 

But getting to that point doesn’t happen by chance. Normally, it takes work to establish relationships between the two parties. 

We’re discussing why you should build relationships with grantmakers in a free video training at the end of this article! 

In the meantime, let’s dig into how to create relationships to help you secure more grants for nonprofits. 


Who Are Nonprofit Grantmakers? 

A grantmaker is an organization, foundation, corporation, or agency that pulls together funds to create grants for nonprofits. 

Many grantmakers create nonprofit grants that coincide with the organization’s mission. These grants usually have parameters and requirements within them, and they can only be used for specific purposes. 

Of course, grantmakers is a collective term for an entire organization or foundation. But it’s made up of individuals who act as the face of the grant. 

These individuals are who you should look to build relationships with! 


How to Build Relationships with Grantmakers? 

So, how do you go about developing and nurturing these relationships with grantmakers?


Do Your Research, First:

Just like with any other part of securing grants for nonprofits, you should always start off by doing research. 

That goes for two things: your nonprofit and the foundations you potentially hope to secure a nonprofit grant from. 


Research Your Nonprofit Organization: 

Make sure you know what areas of your nonprofit need funding. Is there an upcoming program that you need help with? Are there operational tasks that need to be streamlined, but you need financial support for? 

Figure out what it is that you need for your nonprofit before you go asking for any help. Grantmakers want to award grants for nonprofits that know where their money needs to go. 


Research the Grantmaker: 

You also need to make sure you do plenty of research on the foundation you’re hoping to secure a nonprofit grant from. 

For one thing, it shows the individual you’re building a relationship with that you’ve done your homework. And that goes a long way! It shows that you’ve put the initiative into starting off on the right foot, which can mean great things in the long run. 

And secondly, it allows you to get a better understanding of what kind of grants for nonprofits the foundation offers. 

The last thing you want to do is put time and effort into building a relationship with a grantmaker, only to then realize that their grant isn’t compatible with your nonprofit. 

So do plenty of research on the foundation and their grants for nonprofits. Do they only like to work with a certain cause? Is their grant budget sustainable for your program? Do they require specific parameters on what the funds can be used for? 


Don’t Put Grantmakers on Pedestals

It’s easy to quickly put individuals who are the face of grantmakers on pedestals. After all, you’re working on building a relationship with them that involves exchanging money. 

And often, the relationship can start off on the wrong foot because there’s an “imbalance of perceived power.” The individual who belongs to the grantmaker seemingly has the power because they have the funds that your nonprofit needs. 

Or, on the other hand, the relationship might start off rocky because the grantmaker (maybe subconsciously!) is thought of as an ATM, rather than a human. 

Just remember that this is a mutual relationship, where no one is “better” than the other. So, always remember to treat it that way! 

One of the best ways to do this is to get to know them on a personal level, as well as a professional level. Find out their interests and hobbies outside of work. What do they do on the weekends? How do they fill their spare time? 

And be sure to offer that same kind of information about yourself! When you do that, it’s much harder to see the relationship as anything but beneficial to both of you. 


Connect with Your Nonprofit’s Network

Sometimes, you might feel like you have no idea where to start forming these relationships with grantmakers. 

The great news is that your nonprofit may have a network of people, organizations, and foundations that they know of. You can easily start there! 

Check with your nonprofit board members and stakeholders. Strike up conversations with volunteers. Chat with other staff members. 

Chances are someone within your nonprofit’s network knows of at least someone else who can introduce you to a grantmaker! 


Show Up to Events for Foundations or Corporations

Creating meaningful connections with grantmakers doesn’t happen behind the walls of your office. It happens by being social! 

So be sure to do research on the potential funders who have grants for nonprofits. Figure out what events they have or where they’ll be. Is there a formal event they’re hosting or they’ll be at? What about a workshop you can attend? 

A great way to find out more information about where these foundations will be is by using social media. Often, foundations and organizations will post which events they’re attending! 


Be Ready at a Moment’s Notice

Picture this – you make it to an event where you know someone from a foundation will be. Your intent is to strike up a conversation with them and start working to form that relationship with the grantmaker. 

But, as soon as you start heading their way in a crowded conference room, you quickly veer off to the side. Why? You just realized you don’t know what you’re going to say! 

Okay, don’t worry! This didn’t really happen, and we’ve got the tip to make sure it doesn’t happen as you work to secure grants for nonprofits!

No matter what event you go to. No matter who you strike up a conversation with, either in-person or over the phone. You always need to be prepared! 

Why? Because the right person you need to have a relationship with can sidle up to you at any moment and start asking things like, “So, what do you do?” And instead of saying something like, “Oh, I’m a nonprofit professional,” you can be ready to go with a quick elevator speech about what you do at your specific nonprofit organization. 

Not only does this sound more professional, but it’s instantly a conversation starter. Especially if you mention a new program your nonprofit is working on! 


Always Follow Up with a Thank You and Continue Nurturing the Relationship

When you’re working to secure grants for nonprofits, your relationship with grantmakers doesn’t end once you leave the conversation. It doesn’t even end when you secure the grant! 

Instead, you should make it a practice to always work on nurturing your relationship with grantmakers. It goes back to creating a balanced relationship and treating them like they’re human. 

They’re not just an ATM readily available to hand out money. So, be sure to always follow up with a thank you note. That might look like a sincere email you send out, or you could go the extra mile and send them a handwritten thank you card. 

And even after it’s all said and done, you should continue nurturing the relationship. Be sure to check in on them and see how they’re doing. 

Doing so shows that you truly care about them as a person! 


We want to make sure you’re well-informed about all things when it comes to grants for nonprofits. 

And building relationships is just part of the process! But knowing how to build relationships with grantmakers is one thing. Knowing why is another. 

We’re sharing exactly why you should work to create partnerships with grantmakers in our free video training below:




Grants for Nonprofits: Why Build Relationships with Grantmakers? (Free Nonprofit Webinar)


Only mode.


Hello everyone and thanks for joining us for today's free webinar: Why Build Relationships With Grantmakers, I'll be your presenter today, Diane Leonard.


I want to do just really quick housekeeping about GoToWebinar to make sure that you get the most out of today's nonprofit training for grants. So that Yeah, we all spend a lot of time online these days, but let's make sure you know how to use this platform.


So when we do free webinars here at CharityHowTo, we get a huge audience.


And so the way that we handle participation is a little bit different than in our premium webinars, whereas the presenter, I'm interacting with you live and all of your questions all the time, when we're in a free webinar, we do accept questions in the questions box, but I can't guarantee that I'm wanting to get to all of them in the short period of time that we have. So I want to highlight that for you, that please do feel free to enter them. I'll try to get to as many as I can, but unlike a premium webinar, I can't guarantee we'll get to all of them. Some other things about goto Webinar. So what you see on your screen is a screenshot of the control panel and you're likely listening over computer audio, everybody's muted, but if you have any horribles, it might very well be an internet thing and so you could click on that radio button that says phone call. A phone number will pop up, and you'll be able to dial in.


I also want to make sure you know that today's session is being recorded. The slides and the recording will be in your CharityHowTo library tomorrow so that you can access them, the slides are already there, but the recording will show up tomorrow morning, as long as you don't have any tech glitches, and you'll be able to access both at your convenience. Let's see.


What else, I think that's probably about it. So, I am thrilled that you've taken time to join me for this session today, And I'm gonna go ahead, turn my webcam on, so that you can see me, Because, well, what's one of the things that we've learned about being remote, being online, so much? What we've learned is that seeing each other face to face is really important for our relationship building, isn't it?


And so, I've turned my camera on, actually, one of the embedded cameras, not even sure what's happening right now, but that's OK, Let's just go with it. It'll still give me a chance to feel more connected to you as we talk about today's conversation, which is Why build relationships with Grantmakers? So here's just a little bit about me. I am a GPC grant professional certified that's through the Grant Professional Certification Institute, an associate affiliated, or it's ... of the Grant Professionals Association. I'm also one of about 40 approved trainers for the Grant Professionals Association, and let's just put it out there right now.


Neither of those things guarantees that we get the grant every time, my how I wish that it did, but when it does mean is that I love talking about best practices in our work as grant seekers as grant professionals as nonprofit professionals, and so I'm thrilled that you've joined me as today. We talk about the very specific best practices related to relationship building with grantmakers.


OK, just a few other things, because each of us has our own unique winding path that brings us in two grants minus, and I started as a grantmaker. So I was on the other side of the grant-seeking equation, and it's hard We're always more great requests than there were dollars available. And there were always phone calls being received and e-mails coming into my inbox from organizations doing great things that wanted to talk to me that wanted to get my perspective about their competitiveness. They wanted to build a relationship with me as a program officer, as a way to build a greater relationship with the nonprofit organization as a whole.


So I have Ben that in both sets of shoes, the funder who people are trying to build relationships with, and then for the year Sense as a Grant seeker.


Now, as we look at what is going on, I just want a quick check-in. I, it seems like maybe we're having some audio issues. I'm checking in. If you can hear me give me a quick Y in the questions box, so that I know that you can hear me, and then we've got a few folks having some problems. Oh, good. Thanks for that for those of you that quickly responded, I always get nervous when I see the audio issues. That also proves I'm watching that questions box, live, oriented.


So, if you do have a question, you definitely go ahead and ask. I'll do my best to answer as many as I can before our time is up today. I want to be conscious of the time box you have committed to me today. I'm happy also to answer questions on Twitter, after the fact, or on LinkedIn, or LinkedIn messages, or, well, anywhere that you're willing to ask me a question about grants for nonprofits, I'm happy to answer. So, you'll have my contact information at the end.


So, what are we going to cover in our short period of time together today?


Everything about relationships is our entire focus today, but we need to understand the context of today's sole focus.


Our context is that relationships are one part of the grant life cycle. So, on the screen right now, I have an image of the grant life cycle. And the way that our team describes it is with five R's.


Quick show of hands in the questions box for me, Y for Yes. And for know, how many of you have heard of or thought of the grant life cycle in the way that it's visualized on the screen for you right now.


Why for yes, and for no, no judgment here, either way.


This is an image that our team created, but it's based in best practices that the grant professionals competencies are focused on, that the Grant Professionals, Association, Professional Development, is focused on. So we just haven't always given this name, so I'm giving you some shared language for us to use today when I talk about the grant life cycle. There are five elements. We start at the top, just like we would reading a clock, We look at readiness first. When we look at readiness, we're thinking about whether or not our organization is ready to apply, could we be competitive?


Are we crossing all are dotting all the I's crossing our T's in terms of being ready? That's what we're looking at there. And then we move on. Once we've got that housekeeping done, we think about research. So who do we want to have them fund us? Whether foundations or government.


The third are as we move clockwise around our life cycle is relationships. Where are we going to spend our time today?


Then, because we've talked to a funder or tried to have a contact established, we're going to dig in on our writing, Use what we've learned through research and relationships to customize our writing work to write as competitive a proposal as possible. And then, finally, because we do it off so well, we get to Happy Dance, because we got the grant award.


It's time to do grant reporting.


Then, Hit starts all over again.


Never a dull moment in grants for nonprofits. So this is the context that I'm talking about, relationship building, and you might hear me reference other elements of our life cycle.


But the reason why today's conversation is so important is that relationship building of the five elements here in our life cycle is the one that well-intentioned well-managed organizations, that have great grant professionals doing wonderful writing work.


When, under the pressure of grant, calendars, and deadlines, might skip over, might overlook, might shortchange in terms of the time and effort spent with board members or with other stakeholders? This is an area where we can really dial up our efforts in terms of increasing our competitiveness.


So, to think about this idea of why relationships with grantmakers are important, I'd like to have you participate in a quick exercise with me.


I would like for you to pretend that it is your the end of your workday. Please do not shut down your computer, please do not go away, I'll get in trouble with supervisors over the country, don't do it.


We're just pretending for a minute.


It's the end of your workday.


And so whether you're working remotely or you're in the office, you are wrapping up for the day. You head to your personal mailbox, and what do you find?


Bills, magazines, or newspapers.


Maybe a wedding, invitation, maybe a baby, a brief announcement, and also, a solicitation from a non-profit in your own community. It has been addressed directly to you. It has a real stamp. It does not bulk non-profit mail as a real stamp.


And in this solicitation, that non-profit has asked you for $250, which you have never given to this organization. You've not gone to any of their events. You weren't on their mailing list before. You're not sure, How did you get this solicitation?


Let me know in the Questions box. What do you do in response to this solicitation?


Candid answer.


Promise hashtag, no judgment. What do you do with this solicitation that comes to you directly, personally, but from a non-profit, in your own community, that you are not currently engaged with?


Let's find out what happens here, OK, yeah.


These are nice candid answers. Thank you. This is about what normally happens. Ignore it, or delete it. Or recycle it.


Toss it, maybe read it, but likely not give a fee. You say, Oh, might give if personally moved by the mission.


I see someone who says, Oh, Deana says, Read it. And think about it, OK. That's great, A few of you are admitting that because it's local, you recognize her address that you might give it a little bit of thought.


Don't see the comment. But what the other thing that might happen is, you realize one of your friends is on that board or committee list, on the letter you've received. You're like, Oh. I didn't know, Pamela. Oh, I didn't know that. Jonathan, I didn't know they were on the board.


Oh, that explains why I got it.


Think I'll hold onto it.


Maybe I'll give them $25 or something right, we may be personally connected to that list on the letterhead and choose to make a gift for that reason as well, OK, so what does that tell us? How does that help us think about grantmakers?


If you approach a grantmaker and directly apply without any sort of contact, might they feel as surprised, or maybe jilted by what they received when you request funding?


Pause here for deep thought.


Hm, Hm, hm, they might feel similar to how you did when you opened this theoretical solicitation from your own mailbox, and here's why.


Now it certainly is not all grantmakers are going to feel that way, but if a grantmaker has any capacity or preference for relationship building.


Any, if they're willing to read your e-mail if they're willing to talk to you to answer any questions you have, and if they've made that public, we're willing to answer questions.


Reach out via this info e-mail if you have any questions about our process. If they've offered that.


And you reach out with a application, you reach out with a solicitation and there's been no contact, they may also go, Hmm, hmm, I wonder where they heard about us, glinda, where they decided that we would be a competitive good fit.


It doesn't mean that similarly to how you could take that solicitation and put it straight to your recycling bin. Put it straight into your trash. It didn't mean that they necessarily can do that. They still have to log that, they received it, process it via their normal protocols, whatever that might be for the funder, but it doesn't start things off on the right foot.


We want our grantmakers to be excited as they receive our work. We don't want to in any way, have a little bit of friction in the way that they receive our request.


And so what this comes back to is question a comment, a quote I should say from a colleague of mine, Heather Sandbar, who, as you can see after her name is Ed GPC, So Grant Professional certified likening But also, a CFRA, so certified Fundraising Executive, which means that Heather doesn't just think about grants, Heather thinks about all fundraising.


And Heather had this line, used it a few years ago. People give to people, not proposals.


Yeah, that's pretty universal as a statement, and you might think that that is driven towards major donors, individual donors, But the reality is, you could I argue, say people grant to people, not proposals.


So if we're going to think about the fact that it's people reading our proposal, making choices about whether or not they're going to advocate for you, whether or not they're going to open their checkbook.


It's right, We need to think about all of our opportunities to build a relationship, and what it is that we might people to do to influence that.


Part of why we build relationships with Grantmakers, is it helps take the black and white text of the guidelines of the website, the very strict language that might be used about the guidelines. It might give us a little peek, maybe just a little bit into what is important to this grantmaker. What are some of their favorite success stories? What is it that's motivating their release of this opportunity? What is it that motivates their funding? What is driving them?


Each grantmaker is really different.


In fact, I'm thinking back, I'm totally in a time warp moment.


I'm thinking back to an article, Alison Shirk, published way back in 2018 True Story for the Philanthropy News Digest.


And her title was, so you know, one foundation dot dot dot.


So you know, one foundation or something like that. I'm paraphrasing, but the idea is, each grantmaker each foundation is so different in their motivation.


We need to understand each, grantmakers, motivation, their drive, what really gets them excited so that we can tell our story in our writing or in our typing, and have our most competitive application.


Still not convinced. OK, maybe it's that you aren't like Diana. I already know this sometimes, so it's that we have to convince or sell the idea about relationship building. Sometimes we need to give a little nudge or boost to our board members, or our committee members, or our fellow employees that we're asking to talk to a grantmaker at a conference or at a meeting.


So, I'm arming you hopefully, with some ideas for how it is that you can talk about why relationships are important with your colleagues.


So here's information from another well-respected colleague in the field, Vanessa ..., who runs the Storytelling non-profit talks about why we tell stories.


Now, if we think about stories, we might be using them as a way to connect the grantmakers, the individuals running the grantmaking organizations to what our organization is trying to do.


But how do we know which story is important?


How do we know whether it should be a client's story or if it should be a staff story or a community story?


How do we know if we don't try to talk to the grantmaker first?


We'd be guessing. We might be sort of throwing darts, blindfolded, at a dartboard.


So let's think about the types of stories we might tell and why.


So why would relationships with grantmakers be important, because our grantmakers have a mission something they're trying to achieve with their funding?


Just like our non-profit organization, our grant seeking organization has a mission that it's trying to achieve as well.


So by finding those points of connection, by finding the parallel mission, we're able to achieve so much impact together.


Now you might say, What is this example from social media has to do with this deeper idea? Why relationships are important?


When we think about why people are giving to people, why are people granting to people, they are feeling connected to the cause, they're trying to achieve their mission and their impact.


So I've got here for you an example of what one organization did that helped build relationships, and actually it wasn't just with one grantmaker, it was actually with multiple stakeholders.


So when we think about why relationships with Grantmakers are important, all of our relationships are important whether we're talking about one, $5 monthly donor, or $100,000 grantmaker.


They are all relationships that help drive our organization.


So sometimes we can have a great opportunity to engage in, say, positive things about these relationships. And this is such an example.


Save the river off small yet mighty staff in the thousand Islands, and far far far Upstate New York.




Where I'm based, they had a matching grant that they received, and this was a grantmaker that they had a long-term funding relationship and partnership with.


And in order to get that matching grant part of it, they understood was about the drive of the grantmaker. They wanted to see sustainability. They wanted to see how programs would continue, and how you manage projects or was it going to be dependent for this project or nonprofit program on their dollars?


So because they understood not only about this one specific grantmakers passion for the thousand islands, for the environment, for engaging the next generation, the students you see in the photos in environmental education, But they knew it was about sustainability reaching, other supporters, they were able to craft messaging and thank Youse that showed the grantmaker.


Looked in all the different ways, not only are we meeting and exceeding your matching grant, but that we are engaging or other stakeholders, and I liked this story for so many reasons because it's thinking about the why for the grantmaker in the moment as well as their bigger mission.


It's showing how one story that's going to impact potentially a relationship with a grantmaker can be carried out even if with a small staff.


Because they took the one story and then used it across different platforms, they took the same content and reshaped it in a few different ways. So this to me is a great story that highlights why understanding a grantmaker, why? Taking the time to build a relationship.


If they have capacity and preference, which, again, elephant in the room, I understand, not all grantmakers have, but if they have that capacity or preference, this is why the relationships are so important.


Otherwise, a well-intentioned group like saved the river.


They might have simply kept asking for programmatic support money in a traditional way, and all of a sudden than surprised when it came as a denial one day.


Instead, because they understood the bigger picture, focus on sustainability, they were able to continue nurturing the relationship.


That's a win for me. I think that's a win for them, too.


What does this get to?


It gets to the idea of next-level gratitude. and this is a quote, not for me. This is a quote straight from a grantmaker.


So let's think about next-level gratitude, as defined by my friend and colleague, Nextel Senor.


He's the assistant director for the Northern New York Community Foundation.


But this is not a feeling or a quote that's limited only to one community foundation.


This is something that's felt by grantmakers everywhere.


Gratitude has no boundaries as a grantee. Extending a thank you beyond the report can carry tremendous value with a funder.


You know, everyone's like Diane Or Head slept sort of moment, really? This is a quote we're going to share from a grantmaker.


I know, it's so basic, isn't it?


It really is.


But why, if it's that basic, as I say it out loud, that you're nodding along, like, Yeah, OK.


Why am I talking about it?


Because grantmakers aren't feeling this.


Let's be Frank for a moment if we could hear, OK, Yeah. We're still recording, but it's just us for a minute.


When we are under the pressure of a very full grant calendar when we're maybe feeling a huge increase in demand for the volume of what we have to do, I don't know, say maybe because of a pandemic, I think a lot of us have felt that as grant pro's lately.


We need to get the applications out the door by the deadline so they can be considered. We need to get the reports and by the dates that they do, so we build and continue to have funding opportunities.


Do we always have time for this idea of next-level gratitude?


Sometimes it's what we might have to set down in terms of priorities. So we know it is important.


But does it always rise to the top of our to-do list in terms of a priority that needs to get carved out?


That's where I think, sometimes we struggle, how can we still get this done when we know, if we drop any of the other things that we're juggling, we're going to have a bigger problem, so you're right. The grantmaker relationships are so important. But we've got this one elephant over here I already mentioned.


Not All Grantmakers have the capacity or preference to talk to us in advance.


And then we have, I don't know, 4 or 5, 10 elephants's over here, that are the demands on us, as the grant writer, and grant professional, to manage the whole life cycle, when we know that our organizations need resources more than ever. And we might be feeling the pressure of that increased volume that I just mentioned.


So I get it.


I hear you, like knowledge, all these elephants around this, and this is why, when we look at that life cycle, I said this is the spot where we can really fine tune our grant-seeking efforts in order to be more competitive, to secure more dollars.


Because just like with individual donors where it is more expensive to secure a new donor, then to keep an existing donor, it is certainly that are you more expensive for an organization to get a new grant maker in the door than to maintain the funding relationship with someone they already have received funding from.


So with that, let's switch gears.


I've gotten on the soapbox about why relationships with grantmakers are so important.


Again, not because necessarily, you needed to be convinced, but because sometimes you need to be armed with different examples or ideas or comebacks quotes in order to help engage and motivate your colleagues to help.


Because last time I checked, I'm just me Still just one person, and there is a limit to my own capacity.


And so sometimes I'm going to have to ask for help, either because someone might know someone better than I might or have closer connections, or I literally just need some help with some of the grant life cycle items in order to work at a sustainable pace and not be burned out.


So if we take that idea of a sustainable pace and capacity, let's put it on the grantmakers now for a minute, how do we know what grantmakers capacity or preferences for relationship building?


What does it look like?


Has anyone Given me a show of hands in the questions box?


Has anyone ever reached out to a grantmaker that they weren't sure was going to want to hear from them? They weren't sure they were going to answer your call. You weren't sure if they were going to respond to your e-mail. Go ahead and let me know if you've ever, you've tried, you've given it the old-school try on the chance that it could happen.


Huh, good, All right. I'm seeing yeses with exclamation points.


Some of you are saying all the time, all the high fives and all the gold stars for you, That's tough because it might be an effort that doesn't result in the conversation, but me to try.


What we also need to do is make sure that when we or fellow colleagues are doing research about new potential funding opportunities, we need to make sure that we're looking for clues that help us understand anything we can about grantmakers, capacity, or preference.


We'll still give it the good old try if we find nothing, but what are some of the things we might be finding in their websites or their materials? So, here's just a few quick examples.


So, as we look at the community foundation for south-east Michigan, one of the things that I really liked about their website, when I looked at it, was the fact that they said, As a potential partner, You simply need to read these guidelines simply.


And then, if you think there's a fit, please call and talk to us, OK, So, that's pretty clear on capacity and preference, isn't it?


Please go old-school. Please, call us.


Anybody want to weigh in on the questions box? Why do you think they asked for you to call, in an age where e-mail is everything to us, where our inbox is? So much information?


Why do you think that they would say, Please call? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Go ahead. Shorthand quick answer in the Questions box.


While you're sharing your thoughts on that, let me share this last line here.


This is really the zinger: We value your time and do not want you to spend unnecessary hours and resources preparing a proposal unless there's a clear possibility of us working together.




Thank you, Dear Grantmaker, for seeing us. We want that to, right? We don't want to apply to you if it's going to be a good fit, not a good exercise for anyone.


So, why, then?


If that's their statement, if that's what they feel, why are they asking for us to call, OK?


Yes, they value relationships, it fails that it does take more time and commitment for you to call. And so, that, in itself is showing your commitment to the potential funding partnership. It's showing upfront that you can follow directions, David, I agree. Oh, Cristine want to connect with your story and want to know more?


Yes, oh, Amy can have a true and personal dialog. Absolutely.


Deana, able to ask a question. All of these together, and these, there's more than I can even read here, you're right.


On point by being able to talk, you'll be able to hear their inflection.


Hmm, hmm, hmm.




The pregnant pause in itself says a lot, there's no pregnant pause, an e-mail.


I guess maybe unless you've put in a few extra hard returns, but it doesn't have the same impact as listening to a funder, mas, and have sort of a pickup. Hmm. Hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm.


In their response, what they're gonna about to do is save you a whole bunch of time, but it really does give them a chance to answer questions, because of mobile view. Sometimes, I write e-mails when that is So crystal clear, best thing I've written all week.


Then the feedback comes from your colleagues and your like, or not. Maybe it was more of a caffeinated e-mail than a super clear e-mail, either way. So when they asked us to call, they're really providing us a great opportunity.


So now something that I see in the comments box here, coming in and the questions, Kara says, I e-mail foundations to connect and set up a meeting.


Ah, but sometimes I can only find their phone number?


Is it appropriate to cold call a foundation for a potential connection? It seems more bothersome than an e-mail.


This is a widely debated approach.


I absolutely do understand that by e-mailing a foundation to ask for a time to talk, it does feel more respectful of their time.


Mean, did they have time to answer the phone right now? I don't know. Just because it's good for me doesn't mean it's good for them.


You're right, But their Inbox to someone's earlier point.


Hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, their inbox is overflowing.


Well, I don't have the scientifically perfect answer for us here because it's all still us as people working together.


But here tends to be, why I still say that, a cold call, trying a call, and leaving a voicemail is a good effort. If you don't get a callback, then you could try an e-mail asking.


So here's why Kara and everyone else.


I want you to think about how many e-mails you received yesterday, Flupsy, today's Tuesday, right day, the week, Tuesday.


So, yesterday, Monday, people were back at work and so, a lot of things are happening.


Everybody's excited for the week digging in the ballpark. How many e-mails did you get? Go ahead and type it in the questions box for me.


How many e-mails do get?


I always stop counting the day before, or the relationship webinar, because I always count.


And then I say, Well, I'll stop counting at 100, we have to stop counting, But then, oh, yeah, too many. Oh, wow, Daniel?


140, I think we might be competing, alright. Not the right current in the competition. I want a half, and I'm like, that's a lot.


Now, type in the answer. How many voicemails did you get?


My phone actually writing a lot yesterday, so my number is unusual.


Our physician's office got a new phone system so everyone in my household got an automated phone call telling us that there were new phone systems, bore voice mails.


I got one real work voicemail yesterday though. But I was like, oh, my account is off today because of this weird auto thing from the physician's office. An anomaly. one real work voicemail. I see a lot of you that said, zero.


Oh, Daniel, my 240 e-mail response, zero voicemail.


Funders have the same type of ratios, and so, if they can answer, they might, if they can return the voicemail, are actually more likely to have them respond to that, 1 or 2 voicemails than the hundreds of e-mails. So it's worth a shot.


Then you make a note on the calendar. You've left a respectful voicemail.


If you didn't get to someone, and if the call doesn't get returned, could follow up via e-mail in 4 or 5 days. Sure.


That's really it. That's my favorite way to handle it. OK, went down a rabbit hole there on the e-mail voicemail thing, but thanks for playing along.


So let's look at a few other things here. When we look at capacity, we've got online systems, ineligibility, quizzes, and what does that often leave us?


OK, a different path if we have technical problems than if we have actual Application or guideline questions. So let's watch for what sort of path they're sending us on.


It's sort of like a choose your own adventure book way back in the time or machine again. But depending on what type of question might dictate where we go, so let's watch for that, so we're respecting the process that the grantmaker has in place.


When we think about that idea here, again, we see different types of questions going in different directions. We see hyperlinks to e-mails and phone numbers.


If we've got both here, what would we do?


Well, per the storyline that we just played out, our own first e-mail is a follow up, gives us that chance to have the real dialog to answer and ask follow-up questions, to hear the inflection in their voice.


Now listen, I have to say this one. Here you go. You're ready. I hope your foreheads are going to have a little mark here.


At least mindful of another forehead moment.


We're like, we know this.


Funders often say in their materials. If you have a question not addressed and are frequently asked questions, then you may contact us.


Why do they say that?


Because they get questions all the time that are already answered in their Frequently Asked Questions.


And what does that do in terms of making a good first impression with a grantmaker?


Not a good thing. Not good stuff. So I get that it says it here on the website, but just for the cheap seats in the back so that we all hear, we all agree, And maybe this isn't directed at you. Maybe this is something you need to help educate your colleagues about, or your new intern, or a well-intentioned colleague. You need to make sure that if anyone else in your organization is reaching out to a grantmaker, that they, personally, not just you, but that they personally have, read those FAQs so that they're not asking questions.


Those are answers there before you reach out.


I know, right?


It's really more about having an issue with, like, who's reaching out? How much have we read? How much have we prepped them?


So when we think about our outreach, all of these websites, all of our research, provide us with different clues.


Here we've got an orientation. This one I found to be interesting. That way you get a complete overview of the process, an opportunity to ask questions. Well, this is really thoughtful. This is from a foundation.


It feels different than maybe a governmental pre conference or a pre-proposal type session.


I was in one of those today, two hours, they read the PowerPoint, the PowerPoint was really just a copy and paste from the RFP, not really a strong orientation, but technically an opportunity to ask questions. So, we go because it might help you learn something.


This, though, really felt more relationship-driven coming from a specific grantmaker.


OK, When we think about our e-mails, or our phone calls, and we think about who it is that we're reaching, we've seen different titles. We've seen info e-mails, we've seen direct e-mails.


Hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm.


Does it matter who we're really talking with at the organization?


It's rare that we're going to get to the person that has the final authorization about our application and we'll get to make that go no-go decision.


Usually, it's a committee or a board, we're a few individuals who are making this decision.


When we think about our org charts for our foundations or grantmakers that we're reaching out to, I want to encourage you to be open to conversations with any individual.


That has been deemed the person who can answer the phone calls, answer the e-mails they are serving as the gatekeeper. We can't tell from looking at their org charts unless they have directly told us in their materials, like a few did, who are our gatekeepers.


So anyone that answers, anyone that will e-mail us back is a great place to start their relationship.


In fact, part of where I first really thought deeply about this was back when I was a grantmaker.


Lena, who was, our office manager, had been there longer than anyone else on staff.


And ...


would answer every phone call that came in, and new, all sorts of information, and was an incredible resource. If I wasn't available or pegg, our CEO wasn't available.


All sorts of great information to you just never know who's a great gatekeeper that you will get to build a relationship with and get answers from where that will be on the org chart.


Now, how does that play out with our preferences?


Well, we've seen on our website, this is a preference, we prefer the phone.


Actually, the Southeast Michigan Community Foundation took it a step further and they took that one line about the value and actually handle all letters directly written to grant TES. It was awesome.


Awesome, awesome.


This whole thing feels like the type of relationship and respect that boulais I don't know if anyone knows who they of non-profit AF, who really is upon the soapbox about trying to change the balance of this unequal relationship between grantmakers and grant seekers. I get it, It's there, but the Community Foundation for south-east Michigan really was trying to respect What do we have here? We've got money, you have great grant programs, We both need each other. It doesn't have to be a grantmaker to a grant seeker.


When we look at our materials, and we're thinking about our online quizzes, I wanted to have you participate here in one more activity with me.


You've been answering all sorts of great questions here in the questions box.


Let's see how you do on this last one.


This is the Philadelphia Foundation.


And what happens here is that if you want general operating support, you must, if you're a first-time applicant, you must contact the staff, they tell you, you have to do the eligibility quiz, and there are some other resource materials.


But what if you, as the grant seeker, are interested in the organizational effectiveness grants by looking at the grantmakers, other materials, their other funding streams?


You happen to see the general operating funding, where they must be contacted if you're a first-time applicant.


Here, they say five-minute quiz, then you can apply.


Do you reach out or not?


Go ahead. Why for yes and for No, there's somewhere in the middle. I will take an M or a question, mark. That's OK, too. But let's have a way in. What are you going to do?


This is a real-world thing. This happens to us, right? We look at Grantmakers that have multiple funding streams. So what are we going to do?


Are there right or wrong? Singular answers here.


There's room for interpretation in all of these, but the resounding answer. There are some of you that are in the middle on it and I'm OK with that.


But I agree that it is worth trying to talk to them because we see that there is capacity. Preference is mm hmm questionable here. But we know there's the capacity for communication in other funding programs that they run.


So, what I'm really testing here is do they have the capacity to answer questions, but I'd like to do some of your points. I still want to make sure, before I do that, I've done my homework, I've taken the quiz, I know what questions I'm going to have, basically, I have my talking points Ready.


That way, when we reach out, OK, we're having a good conversation, This one, I just love this quote, this particular line: if you feel there is an extraordinary request, your reasons should be considered, please contact us.


Mmm hmm, Gets to decide on extraordinary talents.


Interesting, I'm not picking on this one.


This is a very geographically focused foundation, geographic preference. Key reason proposals are quickly denied by a grantmaker.


So they're telling you, like, If you're outside of the support area, you're not going to proceed.


But I thought that was interesting, you can contact us if you think that you were like the exception.


It's never good to feel like the exception or the outlier. It's really hard to win that argument with the grantmaker.


So I don't know that I'd really feel very optimistic about this opportunity to contact the grantmaker. This one to me is more like, No, no, no. We'll set it down.


So as we look at all of these different ways that we're reaching out.


What is the common denominator behind all of these, whether it's e-mail, whether it's the phone call, What is our common denominator?


It's being prepared, doing our homework for what we think is the grantmaker's motivation, so that we can have this great conversation.


Or at least make the initial inquiry. It might not be a great conversation the first time, it may be very short as an interaction.


But why do we want to have these conversations?


It's because it gives us an advantage.


It's actually a foundation that doesn't have capacity or preference, that gives us the clue of what an advantage it can be.


The grantmaker, in this case, the Cummings Foundation out of Buffalo, New York, recognizes that any relationship-building conversation is going to advantage an applicant going to give him a slight edge.


So since they don't have Capacity and or preference, they just don't. They apply it uniformly, they can't talk to everybody, so they talk to no one.


That way they have leveled the playing field, as best they can control.


We could definitely get into other equity conversations here, I completely agree.


But, their point is, by not talking by not having these conversations, they are not further creating a gap between the types of applicants that they might be funding. So I appreciate and respect their very clear position.


Our common denominator is we build relationships, we prepare, we create talking points, and we reach out, We want to share our story.


Why is it that we think that this grantmaker is a good fit with us? Why do we think it's going to be a great funding partnership? That answer is different for each and every grantmaker we will look at. So we need to walk through our talking points, prepare ourselves for that phone call, or prepare our CEO, or our board member, or our vice president of development, whoever it is that's reaching out.


We need to help build those talking points, practice with them, make sure they feel comfortable, and sure that they've read those frequently asked questions, and then get people on the phone, get the e-mail sent, so that we can do our best to start the relationships.


We are at the end of our time together today. In fact, I think I've gone probably two minutes over the time box.


I get so impassioned about relationship building. I just can't help it sometimes. So I want to make sure that you know that you can reach out with questions. You can reach out on social media. You can come to my website and drop me, a note there in the Contact Us.


Whatever works? Absolutely. Happy to talk more with you offline.


I also, as a thank you for being here with us today for participating in the questions box.


Maybe even laughing at one of my mom Jokes are one of my puns if you want to join us for one of our premium grant webinars. There are bonus materials. I answer every question you have before we leave this session.


Please feel free to use my last name, Leonard, in all caps, and get 15% off any of our upcoming grant writing webinars. I'd love to have you participate in any of our upcoming sessions because you've been delightful to go back and forth within the questions box today, and I'd love to talk with you more about grant-seeking best practices in your work.


Thank you, everyone, so much again for being with us, for talking relationships with me today. I hope you've got some different ideas for how you might approach relationship building or how you're going to help your colleagues really embrace this idea and become a capacity boost for yourself, as well. Please feel free to reach out with questions, as I mentioned anywhere. I am LinkedIn, Twitter, wherever you're comfortable. I'm happy to answer those questions, and I hope to see you in a future webinar with us. Have a great day.

Topics: Grant Management, grantmakers, Grants for Nonprofits