In 2021, it’s no surprise that there’s a social element to grant writing. After all, social media has become a vital tool for nonprofits in many ways. This includes using social channels to reach out to grant funders, or for making donation forms easier to share. And social media isn’t even the only way to add a more social element to your grant writing.
In fact, many grantmaking organizations prefer that you reach out and introduce yourself before you submit your application. The only time it’s not appropriate to reach out before submitting is if the funder specifically asks you not to, or if they don’t offer contact information.
However, many grant writers are still concerned about reaching out on social media. Today, we’re offering you four steps you can take to build a relationship with grant funding organizations:
1. Reach out to introduce your organization.
Reaching out via social media allows funders to start familiarizing themselves with your organization before you even submit your application. This first contact is a great way to ask questions about the submission process, the funding organization’s preferences, and to make sure the program you’re seeking to fund is something the organization is interested in supporting.
What’s more, taking the time to ask well-thought-out questions in advance will help you to stay top-of-mind.
Historically, it’s been common practice to reach out via phone or email if you can find the correct contact information. With LinkedIn becoming standard, it never hurts to reach out on there if you can’t find other contact information. This will work even better if you have a common connection who can arrange an introduction.
If you’re reaching out to a local grant funder, it’s advantageous to request a one-on-one meeting, even if it’s virtual. If they don’t have time for a meeting, ask if you can follow up with email or LinkedIn.
2. Follow up after you submit your application.
Once you’ve made contact, put your best work into your grant application and submit it. After submission, reach out to the funder to check on the status of your application, if they allow for it. Just make sure you’ve given the funder a reasonable amount of time to review your application first!
Not only will this help you reinforce the importance of receiving funding, but it also shows that you were earnest about creating a relationship with the organization.
3. Say thank you (even if you were turned down).
Whether your application was accepted or not, reach out to the funding organization and thank them. If your grant application was successful, it’s an even better idea to give the funding organization a call.
A phone call is generally considered to be more thoughtful. This gives you a chance to ask if you’ll need to supply progress reports in order to accept the grant. You can also use this call to offer representatives from the funding organization a tour of your facility so they can see your organization in action (once it’s safe, of course).
Even if your application was rejected, thank the funding organization for taking the time to consider you. If they gave you feedback on your application, make sure to thank them for their advice, as this advice could help you secure future grants.
If they didn’t automatically respond with advice, consider asking the funder what you can do to strengthen your application.
4. Stay in touch.
Now that you’ve received your funding, you have the chance to build a long-lasting relationship with the funding organization. To do this, you’ll want to go beyond just sending them any required progress reports.
Start by sending the funder a handwritten note. Have the note signed by several members of your staff, including those in leadership roles. You can also send them your organization’s regular newsletter with a special note attached. Finally, make sure to send additional periodic updates—preferably with pictures and videos—to show just how much the grant has made a difference.
Making sure the funding organization knows they made the right choice helps you cultivate the relationship. This improves your chances of being considered for further grants. Grant funders want to trust that their money made a difference—showing them that your organization is a good steward of resources will demonstrate their faith in your organization was not misplaced!
There’s more to grant writing than researching opportunities and submitting the applications. Social connections make the process of applying for and winning grants easier. By keeping the channels of communication open, you’re creating relationships that can benefit your organization now and well into the future.
And if you’re organization is strapped for time and thinking about hiring a grant writer, make sure you don’t make these seven mistakes when hiring your first grant writer!