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Listen to Funders Even When They Are Not Talking

As a grant writer, you must not only tell the nonprofit’s story and the need of your organization, but you must also understand the needs of the funders. 

One of our recent nonprofits stated they have three different groups of people that hold them responsible. 

  1. The Clients – the nonprofit must provide quality programming and true impact for each of their clients. 

  2. The Volunteers – many times the volunteers are on the front lines of serving the clients. The volunteers need to be treated with respect and given all the necessary resources to do impactful work. The volunteers are also donating their time which is just as valuable as money. 

  3. The Funders – their money is an investment on the impact your nonprofit makes. The funders come from many different areas – individuals, corporations, foundations, government, civic groups, and religious organizations. 

Each of the groups above have every specific needs that the nonprofit must meet. 

Each funder has something they want when they commit to giving nonprofits an investment of their financial resources.  The Rayvan Group works with many nonprofit organizations and helps them accelerate their grant funding.

In this article, we want to focus on meeting the needs of the corporation and foundation funders. 

Below are our top three ways to meeting the needs of the corporation and foundation funders simply by reviewing their website:

1. Follow the Requirements


Many corporations and foundations request specifics. You may need you to submit your application in a specific font or to use a set number of characters. It is very important that you follow every single instruction listed on the website. If you are not able to follow a certain instruction for some reason, this would be a good chance to have an introduction call with the funder. 

For example, one of our clients submitted to a large foundation grant last year (before we started working with them) but failed to include audit financials as requested (actually required) in the website instructions. Last year, their request was denied because they did not follow the requirements, so the merit of their request was not even evaluated. This year, while working with us, The Rayvan Groupcalled on behalf of our client and asked if the organization could submit another financial document since they are not large enough to have audited financials. The funder was happy to receive the phone call and would be willing to look at financials reviewed by an accountant. The client was a finalist for the grant funding available from that foundation this year.

2. Speak the Same Language


There are even more than detailed instructions on the website that can help you create a better proposal. Most nonprofits speak in their own language about the work they do but when asking for support from the foundation it would probably be best to mirror the language used on the website. 

For example, if a nonprofit describes their population served in one way (working poor), but the funder described it differently (economically disadvantaged), the nonprofit should not assume that the funder would feel they are describing the same population. The funder shares their specific focus and interest language on the website. It is the nonprofit’s job to use that same language in the funding request. 

3. View Grantee List


Another way the funder is expressing their needs is their past grantee list. A nonprofit can learn a lot about the funder's interests by examining which nonprofit invested previously. Does the funder like large organizations or small, program support or capacity building, supplies or salary? Give your funding request a better chance with an evaluation of the funder’s giving history.

These are just a few ideas for improving the likelihood of your grant requests. If you want to schedule a quick call with us, we would be happy to assess if The Rayvan Group can coach you to have success with all stakeholders.

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