For people running nonprofit organizations, fundraising is one of the most crucial aspects of their work. After all, a nonprofit organization will fail without funding to run their programs. Most people find their monetary support through two ways: philanthropic organizations and individual donors. With both of these methods, building relationships is key.
While millions of dollars are available in the form of grants from the more than 86,000 private foundations that exist in America today, many nonprofit managers struggle with the grant writing process. They often become discouraged when their exhaustively written grants are repeatedly rejected.
However, there are steps that grant seekers can take to bolster their chances of getting government or private foundation grants. A powerful strategy is to contact the foundations to which you will be applying and introduce yourself to the key players who make decisions about rewarding grants. Remember that adage: “It’s not what you know but who you know.”
By getting to know the right people in a giving foundation, you become a known quantity — a real person with a worthy goal. Your grant will not be just another document that ends up on the “slush pile.” Remember, a foundation may have 10 grants to give in a particular sector, and they may receive a thousand written grant requests for the same project. How do foundation decision makers decide which 990 must be rejected?
One way is to focus on those nonprofit managers with which they have a relationship. Because you reached out to them beforehand to describe your project and needs, they will be much more likely to advance your grant proposal forward.
Raising funds from individual donors is also difficult. Many organizations don’t want to seem overly pushy, and others may struggle to demonstrate everything that they do. A strategy that many fundraisers fail to use is to simply ask for money. This may seem astonishing, but many fund seekers never come out and just say the obvious thing: “Would you please consider supporting our cause with X amount of money?” When you do this, people know exactly what you need. There’s no beating around the bush. Remember, the more you ask, the more opportunities others will have to support you.
Finally, develop relationships with individual donors. Use the 80/20 rule. That means spending 80% of your time nurturing those who have given before and just 20% of the time working with “cold prospects” — those who have not given in the past.
Whether you’re looking for funding from charitable organizations or individual donors, relationship building is key. After all, people are more likely to give to a group they know!