Good news! Once you have completed the preparation and research stages that we’ve outlined, most of the work is finished. Your case resources have been created, which will make up the content of your proposal, and you have identified funders whose interests and guidelines align with your needs.
Making the Approach
Funders in Canada vary greatly in terms of their preference for receiving grant requests. The solicitation may not be in the format of a traditional grant proposal. Be sure to identify if the grantmaker has a preferred method, as requests that are received outside of that preferred method may not be reviewed.
If you are asking for a major gift, there may be several steps involved, which may start with an inquiry via phone or letter. As Kelly explained, the process can be much more interactive than a simple application, “let’s say there is some interest –there is an intersection of our abilities, we’ve got some money and here’s something that looks interesting. Then what happens is I’ll ask one of our staff or one of the members of our board to start making some inquiries, and setting up a meeting and getting more information.”
To be competitive among thousands of worthy causes, tailor your solicitation to meet the criteria of the funder. “[Grantseekers] should be able to explain why the money we might give them is going to make a difference, and that’s where our criteria come in,” Kelly explains. “They should be able to justify and explain how our criteria are going to be met.” And how else does the Foundation weigh the merits of a grant request? “Well, the organizations should know who they are, and know who they’re not. They have a good, well founded, strategic plan; they know where they are in [the granting] cycle.”
If a funder requires a letter of inquiry or a proposal, visit the Foundation Center Short Course on Proposal Writing for a walk through guide for help constructing these documents. Remember to research the requirements of the funder to identify if any additional documentation is required with your proposals. Stay tuned for our next issue of Grantseeker Monthly, which will take a closer look at proposal writing.
Stewardship is central to ensuring the sustainability of your fundraising efforts. Kelly describes it as “keeping the Foundation appraised of what their money is accomplishing.” A positive experience with you will likely make the grantmaker more open to future requests from your organization.
The good news is that a large budget isn’t required for effective stewardship. “There is a lot of opportunity for stewardship,” Kelly tells us. “And one of the nice things about it is that it doesn’t cost a lot of money – it doesn’t have to. The things that really matter and the things that really count, that a foundation would consider worthwhile information, can sometimes be offered by a recipient of services, a volunteer, a staff person. It doesn’t have to be long and involved. It’s a phone call, it’s an email… What you need is imagination, you need to be creative about it, and you need to be sincere.”