Getting Invited to the Party

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One of the grant opportunities I added to my monthly Funding Opportunities in the Arts resource accepts applications BY INVITATION ONLY. What does that mean? And, more importantly, how can I get invited?

When a funder accepts proposals “by invitation only,” they mean that they have to know your organization already — know its strengths, needs, key staff, and recent accomplishments. How do you get in front of funders and let them know the great things your organization is doing? Tell them!

Here are some strategies for developing a relationship with a new funder. These strategies can, and SHOULD, be used to develop relationships with ANY funder, regardless of their application restrictions!

  1. Carefully scan a few years of their 990’s (available free on GuideStar) to learn who serves on their board, who are key staff, which organizations are recent grantees, and much more.
  2. Share their board list with your organization’s board to see if a relationship already exists.
  3. Visit their website frequently to learn of other recent news, other grantees, changes to their board and staff, etc. A website may offer more frequently updates than their most recent 990.
  4. Armed with this information, call the funder and tell them a bit about your organization, and ask if they would like to learn more by being added to your mailing list.
  5. If they have a mailing list, ask to be added, to learn of recent news of their organization.
  6. Send the prospective funder your newsletter, and any recent press releases about your organization’s work.
  7. Invite them to a performance, class, program, or other activity your organization. Even if it doesn’t seem geographically possible for them to attend, you never know who is travelling to your neck of the woods!

You may be able to think of even more strategies once you speak to the funder directly, and research their giving history. Feel free to share your ideas by commenting on this blog post!

Good luck! I hope your invitation is in the mail!

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