5 faux pas to avoid with funders

Posted on February 21, 2012


5 grantwriting mistakes to avoid with funder research

I believe in open, honest communication between grantseekers and grantmakers. It’s the only way we’re going to advance our missions.
However, there are certain cringe-inducing sentences that grantseekers should avoid. For example:
  1. I haven’t looked at your website, but can you tell me… Oof. Before reaching out to a funder, spend a few minutes to find what’s already available. Most funders publish guidelines and application advice.
  2. While you consider our request, please accept this gift. Gifts can take many forms — for example, free tickets to events. Intentions are probably good, but the gifts may violate a funder’s conflict of interest policy. When in doubt, call the funder to discuss first.
  3. Email bounce back: Jill Grantfinder is no longer with Charity XYZ. Funders appreciate being notified when their point of contact leaves an organization. It’s awkward to learn the news via email bounce back or disconnected voice mail.
  4. Report? What report? Ask Siri to remind you, mark your calendar, tie a string around your finger — whatever it takes — to meet your funders’ reporting deadlines. Even if they don’t request a report, make a note to share what the grant accomplished. It helps build your relationship for the next ask.
  5. Your mission should include our program. Building a compelling case is one thing, but stretching a funder beyond its mission is a lost cause. If your missions don’t match, it’s time to move on to a different funder.
Again, I hope this list doesn’t discourage candid conversation. Instead, grantseekers and funders can achieve more when they approach each other with honesty, thoughtfulness and respect.
What other advice would you share?