The #1 Step To Improve Your Grant Writing

The #1 Step You Must Take To Improve Your Grant Writing

Many of my favourite memories, from working as a Program Manager at the Ontario Trillium Foundation, relate to meeting with potential grant applicants. I’ve sat in coffee shops, at kitchen tables, on park benches, and in boardrooms meeting with people who had ideas to transform the community. There were lots of laughs, a few tears, and incredible stories of resilience.

So How Can This Benefit Me?

For grant writers, there are many benefits to meeting with a funder before you submit your grant. Besides building relationships, the importance of which shouldn’t be underestimated, meeting with a funder provides opportunities for you, as a grant writer, to:

  • Check for alignment. Meeting with a funder gives you an opportunity to better understand their priorities. Through the discussion, you can make sure your program activities match with what the funder is interested in funding.
  • Improve your grant. Most funders have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of proposals. If you take the time to listen, funders can be a wealth of knowledge in terms of what you should and shouldn’t do when writing your proposal.
  • Save time. At an initial meeting, many funders will tell you whether your program appears to be a fit for what they fund. They obviously can’t guarantee your project will be funded. But, if you know upfront your project isn’t a fit, it will save you hours of time writing a proposal that will never be granted. This way, you can spend your time writing proposals where you do have a real chance.

Do you have to meet with the funder? No, you definitely don’t have to in most cases. There are some funders who won’t meet with you at all, and there are others that make it mandatory to meet with them.

It’s been my experience though, that meeting with a funder can help you write better grants.

If you’re not having success in grant writing, the number one step you can take is to meet with funders.

I’m Sold, How Do I Go About Meeting With A Funder?

  • 1. Do Your Homework

    Before contacting the funder, become well versed in their language and with their programs. Review their website and access any resources they may provide, including Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). You might be able to answer many of your own questions in this way.

  • 2. Prepare Your Questions

    Write down your questions before you contact the funder. This will help you formulate your thoughts in advance and will help you feel more confident, which will be noticeable to the funder. This will also show a respect for the funder’s time. The funder will receive many inquiries from many different organizations about granting programs. If you have spoken to them in the past, don’t assume they remember you or your program. This is not a lack of interest on their part, but rather a product of the volume of interactions they have.

  • 3. Reaching Out

    Different funders have different ways of interacting with potential grantees. The key is to determine the funder’s preferred method of communication, and then use it. If they say they prefer to use email, don’t phone them – use email! Here are some ways you can connect with funders:

    • Information Sessions. Some funders have information sessions delivered in person or online. If they do, it’s a good idea to start there.
    • Telephone. Set a time to speak to a funder on the phone. Remember, don’t just call them up and expect them to be able to talk. Making an appointment respects the time of both you and the funder.
    • In Person. You can also request to meet with a funder in person. This will allow you to meet at a convenient location and discuss your idea together.

    Set telephone and in person meetings through email or phone. I personally think email is better, because the funder can respond to your request when it’s most convenient for them. But, if you can’t find their email address, a phone call might be your only option.

Where Do I Go From Here?

It’s time to get started! If you have a funder in mind, review their website, prepare your questions, determine how to best contact them, and then connect.

Are you nervous about contacting a funder to set up a time to meet? Don’t worry, the GrantsEdge Email Contact Template For Funders will provide you with everything you need.

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