Five Tips for Building Stronger Relationships With Foundations
3. Focus on the “so what.” If you’re given a site visit, try to schedule it at a time when your program officer will see children being cared for, people being fed, families being housed. When you make your pitch, focus on what’s important about your work beyond what your program officer can see. Are you the first, the largest, the best, the only …?
4. Do your homework. What can peer organizations tell you about their funding relationships with the foundation in question? Try to anticipate a foundation’s questions: You’ve gotten along without our funding so far, so why us and why now? We’re already funding ABC Inc.; why should we fund you?
5. Share what you learn. Relationships go both ways. What does your organization have to offer people in the foundation community? You likely have expert knowledge of a particular field (immigration, say) or of a neighborhood that’s of interest to funders. Perhaps you’ve recently done a study or survey of a key community. Offer to meet with foundation staff to share your knowledge or, better yet, collaborate with other nonprofits to organize a funder briefing on the subject.
Albert Ruesga is vice president for programs and communication for the Meyer Foundation. He can be reached via www.meyerfdn.org