Saturday, February 25, 2012

How to Set an Appointment with a Funder

So, you've done a little research and found a great grant opportunity!  Good for you!  Now, the work begins.  Funders state that they WANT potential grantees to contact them, to let them know what they are doing, and keeping them updated on their project(s). 

I think it's somewhat difficult for fundraisers to really believe that funders WANT to see you...they really do.  How better to get your great story about your very important project?  Before you make the call consider a couple of things:

1.  Check your information and get the most up-to-date contact name and phone number.  As an aside, this is NOT a place to email unless you've been instructed to do so.  An old-fashioned phone call is the ticket here.

2.  Write a script beforehand to be sure you cover all the points you need.  We all get a little nervous and sometimes we're prepared for the voicemail and when a real voice answers, we get a little shook up.

Here is a sample script I've used before:

Hi, this is Lisa Masters with XYZ.  Is Ms. ABC available?  Ms. ABC, I am working on a project for XYZ and I was hoping I could set down with you for 10-15 minutes to get your input on how best to proceed in the grant process. 

You will get an appointment or you will be pointed in the direction of the right person to contact.  Sometimes this is the Executive Director and sometimes it is a Program Director or similar titled person.

In any event, you've made the first, best, and most important step....keep going!

Next time we'll have some tips for getting fully prepared for this all-important meeting! 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Technology Grant Awarded!

A process started in April of 2009 culminated in that much anticipated, "you have been awarded..." telephone call.

It had happened!  It had finally happened!! 

I was on a quest for technology funding for our school which was a about 5 years or more behind the proverbial curve.  The following details a portion of the story...

1.  Searched online for "technology grants, technology funding, funding for private schools, etc."
2.  Found the Lutheran Foundation in St. Louis and saw that they had indeed funded some schools.
3.  Applied and was denied from the Lutheran Foundation
4.  Listened to a Lutheran Foundation staff person at an Association of Fundraising Professionals "Meet the Donor" breakfast and they noted that funders like to hear from those requesting grant funds.
5.  Contacted the Lutheran Foundation staff person who directed me to their president.
6.  Met with the Lutheran Foundation president for lunch and presented information about our school and asked for direction. *sent a thank you letter
7.  She put me in touch with the executive director of the Innovative Technology Education Fund with whom they work in granting funds to Lutheran schools.
8.  Contacted the Innovative Technology Education Fund (ITEF) executive director who put me in touch with their program officer.
9.  Met program officer from ITEF for lunch and presented our marketing information .  I explained what we were looking to do and asked for direction. *sent a thank you letter
10.Applied for grant with as detailed information as possible and with suggestions from the program officer.
11.Received word that we were selected for a site visit.
12.Prepared for and hosted a successful site visit. *sent a thank you letter
13.Heard those wonderful, wonderful words, "you have been awarded a grant!" *sent a thank you letter

Nearly three years had passed since we began.  What are our lessons?

You must perservere, you must research and get on the phone and ask questions. 
Don't be afraid to meet and ask a funder what they suggest. 
Always, always have information prepared to give to a funder to back up your reasoning for requesting a grant. 
When you return from a meeting, a great phone call, a site visit, or a congratulatory phone call, ALWAYS send a thank you letter on professional stationery.
When communication throughout the grant application process, be completely honest, ask questions if necessary. 
Return grant paperwork as soon as possible
Maintain accurate records as grant fund purchases are made so that impact, mid-grant reports, follow up reports, etc. are easily assembled.

Next time:  How to get a meeting with a funder!