Grant Conversations

Online communications are preferred for an ever-growing number of professionals today, whether that be via email, secure website form, secure internal communication platform, by telephone, Facebook Messenger, LinkedIn Messaging, video or phone conference call, and more. This, combined with the fact that there are a growing number of applicants seeking grant funding often means the communication between grant seeker and funding entity is even more limited than it would normally be today.

It can be a challenge to get in touch with those in charge of making grants and/or those charged with interfacing with the grant writers about potential grant requests. Yet, if funding entities want to support the highest quality, most effective programs – whether they be corporations, foundations, donor advised funds, federal and other government agencies – then it would make sense to converse as soon as possible with applicants prior to their spending enormous amounts of time writing grants and submitting them, only to find the interests of the prospective donor have changed, or funding is tapped out, for instance.

The point of my post is simply to encourage grant makers to respond in a timely fashion to requests for information in whatever way they prefer. You do sometimes hear that, “so many” people are reaching out for financial support that the staff just, “don’t have the time” to respond to inquiries.

If that is true, why not hire more staff to field requests? That way, you prevent unnecessary applications and wasted time by potential applicants who literally spend hours and days crafting what they believe are meaningful and appropriate grant proposals. You also ensure that you receive the best possible applications, perfectly tailored to your interests. This is also good public relations. Even if the job of your staff is simply to say you are not accepting proposals, this would help nonprofit fundraising staff redirect their time in more productive ways and not be longing needlessly for a grant that will ultimately be rejected.

As I write this, many are working from home. It seems to me this kind of communication task is ideal for funding staff who can and do work from their homes. Don’t let nonprofit grant seekers misunderstand your lack of a response as meaning, “we don’t care about your nonprofit and we are just too busy to respond.”

Having said this, there are some funding entities with which I have worked that are quick to respond with, “we will let you know if we need more information.” “Yes, you can apply during our next funding cycle, but now is not a good time.” “Let us know if you have any questions.” To them, I give a high five!

I also interacted recently with a corporate community relations executive via email who responded to my questions about the company’s online application immediately. “Let me check.” “I’m not sure why you cannot upload that attachment.” “I will get back to you.” And they did so on multiple occasions. Frankly, even if my project is not funded in the end, I am left with a feeling of gratitude for their being honest and responsive. Think about that.

Having said this, in my experience responsive grant professionals are relatively few and far between. So, respectfully, I urge corporations, foundations, donor advised funds, government agencies and the like to put more energy and resources into responding to those reaching out for guidance. You will shine in the end and improve your grant making in the long run!

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