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Strengthen Your Grant Proposal by Establishing a Relationship With the Funder

When we work with our clients, we always tell them that relationships matter. And that is no different when it comes to grant writing.

When it comes to funding, you ideally want to have a telephone call with the funder prior to submitting your grant proposal. This call may not only strengthen your opportunity for funding but it could also lead you in several different directions.

It may even open the door for you to invite the funder to come see your program in action and experience your impact first-hand.

But let’s not put the cart before the horse. If you have not met the funder before, you have some work to do. 

No matter how strong the grant proposal is that you are submitting, a funder relationship goes a very long way. We encourage our clients to get on the phone with the funder and begin to establish a relationship with the funder before going too far into the writing stage. 

Actually, here is our complete formula…you will see it is actually a three-step process:

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Step 1: Email

  2. Step 2: Phone Call

  3. Step 3: Email

This article will only cover Step 1. We don’t mean to leave you wondering what to do next, but because we understand that sometimes, taking action is the hardest thing to do. But once you have completed Step 1, you are well on your way to continue the forward motion to move into step 2 and step 3 (which we will address in a future article).

There are several reasons why we encourage our grant writing clients to establish a funder relationship prior to writing a grant. The first reason was already mentioned – because relationships matter. Another reason is because the funder will share their philanthropic focus with you and when they do – pay attention to the keywords and phrases they use. 

But how do you get them on the phone? Sometimes an email from a mutual connection will do the trick.

See our sample emails below:

Sample #1:

This email is from a nonprofit program staff that has already met the funder, making an introduction to the organization’s executive director.

Hello,      [insert funder name]     

It was a pleasure getting to know you.  Thank you for allowing me to share about the exciting plans for ABC Nonprofit. As you could tell, I am extremely passionate about the work we do in our community. 

Please allow me to introduce you to our CEO, [insert first and last name]. I don’t believe you had the opportunity to meet her yet.

I trust that you two will be able to connect and continue a conversation from here without me as the middle man. 


[Nonprofit program staff]

Sample #2:

This email was sent after Sample #1 where the program staff made an email introduction for the CEO.

Good morning,  [insert funder name]   

I am thrilled that (program staff name) has connected us. As the CEO of the ABC Nonprofit, I would like to request a moment of your time to learn more about the (insert name of foundation) Foundation and its philanthropic focus in our local community. 

Would you be available to meet at a location convenient to you so that we can learn more about you and the insert name of foundation and you can ask me any questions you may have?

Sincerely, [Insert CEO or Development Officer name here]


We mentioned above that this is often a three-step formula:

Step 1: Email  Step 2: Phone Call  Step 3: Email

In a future article (or video if we get extremely creative), we will continue to share with you the remaining steps in this three-step formula. 

If you are having some trouble with your email introductions, comment below with your question and we will be glad to help you brainstorm some ways to approach the funder. 


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