The Importance of Foundation Engagement
Foundation leaders also make you accountable to them and your organization. Many foundations demand strategic plans, budgets, operational objectives and validation of priorities as elements of a typical grant request. These individuals help make you think and be responsible for your actions. Even if you do not receive funds from them, you are better off knowing why your proposal wasn't considered in preparation for another grant submission in the future.
I make every attempt to meet with various local, regional and, if relevant, national foundation representatives to learn how and why they give funds plus how they operate. I want these funders to be aware of my organization and the programs we provide. A by-product of this activity is exposure to other foundations and potential individual donors. I also always attempt to meet with foundation staff if allowed before I send a proposal. Through this process, I better understand how my chances for funding can be improved through staff engagement.
Many individuals typically believe foundation giving is a numbers game. Just send a proposal to many foundations and somehow you will be magically awarded funds. In this day and age, that is not how the process works. You need to build relationships, educate foundation staff and align your organizational priorities with foundation priorities. It is a long-term process that helps you better understand your organization.
While you need to develop a variety of ways to secure funds from many sources, the best way for you to be totally knowledgeable about your organization is to seek foundation grants. Through this process, you will engage various organizational representatives in the operational process. You will be challenged as never before but better prepared to raise funds.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.