How do you build your relationship with your non-profit’s grant funder/donor?

To build a relationship with a grant funder you do not know yet, the best way to start is to call them on the phone or e-mail then with an (intelligent) question. This is assuming you have read everything published on their foundation (website, wikipedia, google, etc.) and your missions align. Start a conversation, and ask them all about their history, mission, goals, current status, and have a BRIEF description of your program ready when they ask about you. Hopefully you will get them interested in your program and how it meets a critical need they want to address, and they invite you to apply.  Keep communication open during the application process, asking pertinent questions and getting your application in well ahead of time. Some funders appreciate an invitation (or require it) to visit your organization and see the work of your organization – take this as an opportunity not to wine and dine them, but to show how your organization fulfills its mission and the passion behind your organization. Respect their timeline and DON’T bug them if they discourage calls, or if their Board has not met yet to review apps. If you’re NOT funded, keep communication lines open, ask questions and LISTEN to what they tell you about why they did not fund you, take what they say VERY seriously, and try again, if that’s warranted. If you are funded, a letter of thanks, periodic status reports, and invitations to see their dollars in action are always appreciated.

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