Make Money Through Relationship Building: Grant Writing Basics

Grant writing is really a misnomer, because so much of getting a grant has nothing to do with writing, but with relationship building. Some foundations support your organization year after year, and yet have never actually met you! Why not take the first step in relationship building and invite them to come visit? In my first full-time grant writing job, I learned just how valuable this small step could be: to the tune of $60,000 of unexpected funding!

Like every other grant writer before me, I sent an application to a Family Foundation requesting $20,000. This Foundation had regularly funded our organization and their support was pretty much a sure thing; the type of grant that allows you to breathe easy for a change. I had the application ready to go, and gave it to my boss to proof before sending it out. She made one small, yet essential, change to the cover letter: she invited the Board to tour our facilities and see their money at work.

Sure enough, representatives from the Midwest-based family foundation flew out to the East Coast for a day. They were hosted by the Executive Director and the Development Director and were given a tour of our Community Center where they were introduced to the clients that it served. When clients found out that these folks were responsible for funding the programs that had changed their lives, they were not shy about sharing their triumphant stories of making a better life for themselves. We couldnt have scripted it better if we had tried. This truly put a face on the donors dollars!

Overall, it was only a days work from the two Directors, but paid off handsomely in the end. The Foundation awarded us THREE TIMES our request! They were so impressed with the changes that they saw in the people that their money was serving, that they couldnt help but to make their contribution even larger.

If we had never extended the simple invitation to the Foundation to come visit our facilities and see their money at work, we probably would have gotten the $20,000 that year and every year after, never knowing what we were missing.


Faith (for Content):