Relationship Building

by Anne Maertz, CVT Manager of Institutional Relations

There is an old saying in fundraising, “people give to people.”  Of course, a foundation will want to know that your organization’s programs are effective and your finances are in good shape.  However, if you can meet face to face with funder representatives and—even better—if you can introduce them to individuals who have been helped by your organization, those interactions will reinforce the case for support you have presented on paper.  It can be intimidating to pick up the phone or send an email to a foundation contact.  However, keep in mind that it is their job to give away money.  Most of them want to hear from potential grantees.  They will say “no” if they don’t think your organization is a good fit for their programs; don’t take it personally.  If they say “yes”, set up a meeting at your office for a tour and to meet several beneficiaries and/or direct service staff members.  Think through your messages ahead of time and rehearse the meeting.  Have a list of questions to ask them, and leave plenty of time for them to ask questions.  It’s okay to ask at the end of the meeting, “May we submit a proposal?”  Either way, thank the funder for visiting.  Then, try to maintain regular contact through email updates, invitations to events, or phone calls.  Don’t just call or write when you want something!      

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