Building Relationships with Foundations

Hey everyone,

Lately if you’ve been following me on Instagram, I’ve been mentioning a lot around the importance of building relationships with grant-making foundations. I was talking to an Executive Director that I work with and she was explaining that it’s been what’s made the difference for her organization, and I’m a true believer in getting on the phone and really talking to them from your heart. It will do more for your organization than an email will do. So I’m here to offer some tips and tricks for how to get those foundations to fund your nonprofit.

  1. Do your research: The way I look at it, if someone wants me to fund their foundation, they should take the time to get to know me as a person (not just a potential donor on a list) and foundations want to feel the same way. Look at the past organizations they have funded, the goals they have for the future and how they want to change the world. Think about this: if you were the Executive Director of this foundation, does this fit with what you want to do? If you feel like the answer to this is yes, it’s time to start solidifying that relationship.

  2. Check FAQs/Best Practices, but always call if you can: I’ve said this to quite a few clients, if the foundation has a phone number- call it! Check the FAQs first to make sure they are accepting calls, but as long as you don’t see anything along those lines, call!

  3. Have a 3-5 minute elevator pitch ready: You know what your organization does, but do they? Before going into a call, have your highlights ready to go: What does your organization do? What kind of population do you serve? What are your most recent accomplishments? Don’t forget to discuss any collaborations with other organizations.

  4. Discuss potential partnership opportunities: Look at it as a partnership, and have 3-5 ideas ready as well for how they can support you. Generally they’ll tell you what makes the most sense for them. If possible, consider a face to face meeting and if they bring it up, even having them visit your site.

Building relationships with foundations is so close to my heart because I used to be on a foundation board, and I loved it! I’d love to know- what are your foundation relationship-building tips and tricks?

— Janet

Janet Gonzales