Build Strong Grantor Relationships and Funding Will Follow

“When applying for a grant, seek out ways to build a relationship with the funding source.”  Libby Hikind, Founder and CEO of, advises grant seekers and GrantWriterTeam grant writers to: “Do some research as to who the funding source has funded in the past, the amount of the awards, and the types of program.” When dealing with a foundation or corporate funding source, you should be able to find information on the experience, education, and existing nonprofit relationships of the administrative staff (other boards they serve on…). When you make that initial phone call or email you should be prepared with some common ground and know how to approach the foundation staff member you want to connect with.

Getting a grant award involves competing for money from a variety of funding sources.  The better acquainted you are with the funding source, the easier it can be to get the funds you’re seeking for your nonprofit organization, your community group, or yourself. Building a relationship with people at the foundation or organization that you are seeking funding from, can greatly ease and aid the process.

Another Professional Opinion

Enter Theresa Lu, Ph.D., a highly regarded consultant and educator, with 25+ years of experience in the fields of organizational development and management. Dr. Lu is also an associate professor at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and an adjunct professor at California State University, Dominguez Hills.

The first step in getting a grant, explains Lu, is to do a historical analysis. Look at who has been funding the nonprofit for the past three years. Look at what grants they’ve gotten, what they’ve applied for that’s been rejected, and any prior funders it makes sense to approach again. Only then should you look for new potential donors.

“The next step is to look at how to sell to organizations. What is unique about the program? What are the greatest strengths? Is there a family aspect? A children’s aftercare program? A health component? A senior assistance component?  We think about strategies upfront before we look for new funders.”

Next, do a thorough analysis of the organization. In addition, include things like budgets, funding, and programming.

Subscribe to different websites like GrantWatch and do searches based on the different segments and present the results to their clients and work with them to decide which to apply for.

Finally, find the names of the key individual(s) to contact within an agency or foundation. Pitch to each program, highlighting the importance of an “elevator speech.” Practice your elevator speech. Tell them your name, the name of your organization, and two to three sentences about your organization and what you do.

Do Your Research

Know everything you can about your funders. “Ask specific questions like: ‘We notice that you fund Florida, do you fund Gainesville? How many grants did you give to programs in Gainesville in the past year?’ Have three to five questions to ask, be specific. Don’t waste their time.”

“You want to put forth a proposal that really speaks to the funding officer and board of directors.  You want the funding officer to be able to advocate for your organization.  Ideally, you want a partnership. Make sure your proposal relates to what they’re interested in funding.”

Get to know the program officer as well as possible. “Consider it like making a friend. Also, they want to get to know you. They want to know who you are and what your organization does. They want to believe in you and know you’ll spend their dollars well. That’s how you build long-term sustainable relationships,” according to Lu.

Foster Lasting Relationships

Once you get a grant it’s important to stay in contact with the funder to make sure that you are in compliance, especially if you hope to get more funding in the future. Touch base with them to find out if they have other grants that your agency or nonprofit would benefit from and stay on their radar for continued funding when the time comes. Maintaining strong relationships and applying to the same granting foundation or government agency is often easier and more effective than finding new funders and starting from scratch.

Be Your Own Boss

  1.  Work with other writers

As the popular saying goes, two heads are better than one. Failing to collaborate with other writers will make your stressful and overwhelming. Many grant writers choose to work in teams because it helps in generating new ideas for the grant research and writing required for an enterprise. A grant writing team works together to quicken the process and ensure that the writing project gets completed on time.

  1. Create a solid plan

You need to structure your day according to the needs of your client and the type of work that you’ll be required to do. Your plan doesn’t have to be complex. All you need to do is think of the tasks you’ll be working on the next day and put them on your calendar.

You can also consider batching domestic tasks to streamline your day and save time. Other successful freelancers create a to-do list the night before and check them off as the day gradually progresses.

  1. Communicate with clients

After securing a job, you should get to work. However, don’t get too busy and forget your client. You need to communicate with your clients early and often. If you get overwhelmed or sick, you have a higher likelihood of missing your deadlines. Don’t keep quiet. Let your client know what’s happening. If you’ll be traveling for a couple of days, give them a heads-up. Or send the articles in advance.

If you manage to finish your tasks early, inform them as soon as you can so that they can start making payments. Being transparent and proactive will be appreciated. And you’ll be a step ahead of other freelancers.

Clear communication will make your work easier and will help in building relationships with clients. One of the best ways to build your brand and reputation is by communicating clearly and effectively.

  1. Look at your workspace

Working from anywhere may seem appealing to many. However, your workspace determines your productivity and performance. To become a successful freelancer, you need to figure out the kind of environment that works best for you.

Do you enjoy working in a noisy or quiet environment? Your workspace should always be organized if you want to make progress. Start by eliminating clutter and placing the items you’ll need in close proximity. If working at home isn’t conducive, you can consider working in the local library or restaurant.

  1. Manage your time effectively

To become a successful freelancer, you need to develop your time management skills. This is an important skill because you won’t have someone telling you what and when to do your job. As the popular saying goes, with freedom comes responsibility. You are 100 percent responsible for how you manage your time. You should have a plan and set your deadlines. And you also need to work ahead to get some time off.

  1. Learn to say no

Most freelancers never say no to any project that’s presented to them. And this is a huge mistake. You have to trust your intuition when choosing the projects to take. Always go for freelance projects that fit with your experience level, expertise, and passions.

When you love what you are doing, it will be easier to get more done in less time. Apart from knowing your strengths, you should know your limits. You shouldn’t overwork yourself to make other people happy. When you learn to say no, you’ll have the time and energy to work on a wide range of tasks and feel satisfied.

  1. Eliminate distractions

You need to identify the things that make it harder for you to achieve your goals. Knowing these distractions and creating a game plan will help you figure out how to avoid them. Most freelance writers get distracted by social media, television, chatting with friends, or interruptions by loved ones. To boost your productivity and performance, you have to eliminate distractions.


When you are freelancing, your productivity and performance depend on you. Being your own boss doesn’t mean overworking yourself or oversleeping and underworking. You need to balance everything. And learn how to separate work from play.

About GrantWriterTeam 

Are you a nonprofit or small business in need of some help? If you are searching for grants but are feeling overwhelmed, hiring a grant writer may be the perfect choice for you! Grant writers thoughtfully grant opportunities and consider the pros and cons of applying and the chance of success. Consider your writer an extension of your organization. They will coach you throughout the entire process and curate the project to fit your needs. Your grant-seeking success is our priority at GrantWriterTeam.

Disclaimer: There is no guarantee that grants will be awarded as a result of this information.