We hear it all the time from foundations, “I wish organizations would stop emailing me questions they can easily look up on our website.” At the same time, we hear from non-profits all the time, “How am I supposed to build a relationship with a foundation?” Unfortunately, asking about grant guidelines, deadlines, or funding areas are not the way to do it.
So how do you build a real relationship with a foundation? We have nine ideas for you (and none of them involve cold emails):
- Warmly network. Use your existing relationships to get introduced at an event or by email. Ask for an introductory meeting or phone call.
- Be respectful of time. Don’t ask for an hour-long meeting; instead learn to effectively introduce yourself in a 20-minute phone call.
- Don’t make an ask in the first meeting. We know you need funds for your organization, but asking right away can sour a relationship.
- Do your homework online. Use the foundation’s website but also review their 990. Know who else they fund and understand the foundation’s mission and their passion.
- See and be seen. Be part of the non-profit community. Events held by Advisors in Philanthropy, LASVP, and the Center for Nonprofit Management often bring together funders and non-profits. Just remember not to solicit at these events.
- Invite your partners to see your work in action by inviting them to events and to volunteer when appropriate.
- Be proactive. Initiate communication; don’t just respond to requests. Share good news and accomplishments.
- Do not add your funding partners and potential partners to your “general communication” list. Communicate with them individually and appropriately.
- Be a great steward of money. Make sure to provide timely grant reports and updates to your foundation partners.
Any other tips you’ve learned? Let us know in the comments.
Sign up here to receive the highlights from the Starfish Impact blog in your inbox.