February 21, 2023

Nonprofit Tips: Building Funder Relationships

Building a strong relationship with your prospective and existing funders is a crucial part of grant-seeking.

Building a strong relationship with your prospective and existing funders is a crucial part of grant-seeking. Much in the way you steward and cultivate your individual donors, investing in your institutional, corporate, and foundation grant funders is an important step towards securing the financial sustainability of your organization.

KDS has compiled our best tips and suggestions for how to further these relationships:

For prospective funders:

  • Ensure that your organization is doing work that is in alignment with their priorities and that you meet their eligibility requirements.
  • Check out their 990s and see who else they have funded recently; perhaps they are in your network of nonprofit colleagues.
  • Look at their board list and see if there’s anyone you or your board members could reach out to for insight into the award process.
  • Call them! Call and introduce yourself. If you are not yet eligible for a grant but hope to be in the future, let them know you are growing and working towards eligibility for their grant programs. Ask a thoughtful question, request additional information, or gain some insight on their funding priorities. You want your organization to be present in their minds as they review the applications.

For existing funders:
Deepening your relationship with existing funders is just as important. Send them program updates, photos and videos, annual reports, invitations, and collateral materials throughout the year. Friend them on social media, check their websites for press releases, and continue to keep tabs on their other grantees or new funding priorities.

  • Invite funders to your events or programs, and consider offering volunteer opportunities that will be easy lifts for your team.
  • Reapply as soon as you are permitted and ask for more funding. Provide evidence of how responsibly you’ve used their funding through reported data, evaluations, and more personal impact stories.
  • Have hard conversations. If your funders are requesting data that was not specifically outlined in the award contract, and will put an undue burden on your staff, you should say so. If they are using language or enacting policies that are not aligned with your organization’s values or commitment to anti-racism, you should say so. If you have feedback about their application process and the way it disadvantages organizations led by BIPOC people or members of the community, bring it to their attention. Transformation within the nonprofit community will only happen if everyone is willing to engage in frank, difficult, and respectful dialogue when necessary.

As always, KDS is here to help organizations with their grantseeking process, cultivation of relationships, reporting, and strategy. Contact us at heythere@kazanasstrategies.com for a free 30 minute consultation!