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Has your organization's Grant Strategy gone stale? Are you hitting the same foundations year after year? Maybe you've hit a wall with finding new prospects? It sounds like your organization could use a strategy refresh! But, don't worry; the Wright Collective has got your back!

by Wright Collective Grant Expert, Alison Yoder!

Step #1 - Get Creative: No Deadline, No Process, No problem!

Lately, it feels like many foundations are leaning heavily on their gatekeepers to keep away new funding appeals. These foundations either do not accept unsolicited proposals and/or have no process for submitting a letter of introduction. So how can you get in front of these types of funders? Just like cultivating a new individual donor, you need to focus on three things:

  1. Assess any potential connections.

  2. Have a clear need and ask ready to go.

  3. Don't be afraid to follow up.

Step #2 - Finding Connections

You might be surprised how many connections you have within your extended network. Some ways to zero in on potential avenues of approach:

  • Create a list of 3-5 targeted foundations’ staff & board members & share it with your team and board members. You'll want to look for connections, perhaps a business card or prior coworker; check out LinkedIn for any potential relationships that could make an introduction.

  • Review their list of current and past grantees. You may find this information on their website, but if not, check on Guidestar for their 990's located at the bottom of each year's IRS return. Check if any of these organizations are in your network, your coworkers, or your board member's networks. Reach out to the ones you know best for insight about the process and advice for opening the door. Best case scenario? Your colleague may even be open to introducing you to their program officer.

Step #3 - Keep a boilerplate letter of intent or proposal ready!

While cultivating these funders, make sure you're ready with a prepared folder of boilerplate documents in hand! This folder should include:

  1. Your latest and most significant successes and impacts

  2. Materials on your current projects and their expected outcomes

  3. Information sheets outlining your ask & its impact

Your prospectus sheets should cover your organization's current needs and outline where these funders can support and sustain your organization and its mission. Once invited to submit an LOI or proposal, customize the boilerplate. Make sure you:

  • Make the connections between your work and the priorities and mission alignment with the foundation and

  • Incorporate any feedback or insights from the initial cultivation efforts, especially if you've collected data during these calls or meetings about why they may support your work.

Step #4 - Don't leave 'em hanging. Remember to follow up!

I cannot stress how important it is that you don't be afraid to follow up after submitting your LOI or proposal! Though there is a line between pestering and following up, connecting a few weeks after submission to inquire about any additional information needed is generally not offensive.

A couple of months later, even following up again around a decision is also very reasonable. Just be intentional about including any new information or updates, considering this is an opportunity to continue the conversation between your organizations.

Step #5 - Keep in touch! Building and facilitating longer-term outreach.

Make sure to include any contacts created during the cultivation stages in your general communications - newsletters, e-updates, etc. As you steward a longer-term relationship, be mindful of specific updates that may interest particular funders based on your past conversations. One to two annual touchpoints outside of a specific funding request is a great way to expand the relationship beyond the funder/grantee transactional relationship and build more of a partnership.

Bonus tip: Invest in Organization for your Organization

There are several steps or touchpoints with each foundation donor or prospect throughout the year. It is crucial to track these either in a grants calendar or, ideally, both the calendar and a donor database. Not to mention that all five of the steps I've outlined will be more impactful if documented in such a system.

These systems, which can take initial time to set up and implement, can save you enormous time on an ongoing basis while making fundraising and grant activity analysis more effective for your organization!

CTA: Do you think your organization could benefit from a consultation? The Wright Collective is here to help! Book a FREE 30 minute consultation today (href:


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