By Nick Parkevich
This morning our Chairman, Ted Grossnickle, and I had the opportunity to sit down and have a really open conversation with a local, but well-known and sizeable foundation. The experience was refreshing and reminded me of a few things that only made sense to me well after I had left an active development role.
While you may be aware of many of these foundation realities, the truth is that many organizations fail to maximize the opportunities they present to us.
- Your grant officer wants to hear from you – so call them
- Foundations have much more than funding to offer; just ask
- Funders talk to each other; sharing both the good and bad – and they do make recommendations to other funders
- Grant officers are usually not the decision maker, but the strength of your relationship with the grant officer does matter – you can make their job easier by liking you
- A “No” is not personal – don’t take it as such
- Not all foundations are adverse to funding operations or to providing annual gifts
- “No Unsolicited Proposals Accepted” usually means it
- Lighting strike gifts do occur – you just never know when, where, or who the benefitting organization will be
- Talk to current and past grant recipients to understand the funder’s processes, likes, dislikes, etc…
- Grantmakers are human and they have good and bad days. Don’t base everything on that one bad experience you had with a funder – it might have just been the day they were having
Implementing strategies at your organization to take full advantage of these opportunities will help you develop stronger relationships from the start and on an ongoing basis. Remember that your grant officer has to represent you to the trustees, so the better they know you, the greater your chance of success. Finally, keep in mind that foundations aren’t averse to thinking big and strategically with you, they are just charged with balancing your needs/grant request with the resources available at the foundation.