Building Relationships Is Vital to Winning Grant Funding

September 18, 2017 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

1d268f99873a81c14bae7634d5603b79This week, we here at Thompson attended (and exhibited at) the Grant Professionals Association (GPA) National Capital Region Grants Conference in Arlington, Va. The meeting was very informative and there was plenty of audience participation in all of the sessions we attended. Subscribers to our grants publications will be able to find out lessons learned in conference sessions related to collaborative proposals and how to maintain grant funding in an environment of reduced federal funding.

Kicking off the conference was keynote speaker Glen O’Gilvie, chief executive officer of the Center for Nonprofit Advancement, who had some interesting thoughts for organizations that are new to applying for federal awards or foundation funding. O’Gilvie said that that the road to successful funding begins with building relationships. “All too often, nonprofits go right to the proposal or to the funder without building relationships,” he said, noting that they should take advantage of their board of directors and their executive directors to meet with funders and cultivate better relationships.

O’Gilvie said this process begins with “relationship mapping” to determine “who in the organization knows whom at which funding agencies.” Then the organization should develop a strategy to get to know the people at the funding agency. “It’s okay to have coffee with a prospective funder before a request for proposals is issued,” he said. “The coffee is just an introduction, and it’s okay to host them in other ways so that when the proposal is due, they are receiving something from an organization that is familiar. That can bring a better level of success.”

Lastly, O’Gilvie suggested taking a final step that, although not pleasing, could prove very beneficial in the long run. He said that the organization, if not funded, should ask the awarding entity for a declination meeting. “When you don’t get funded, ask to meet with the funder to find out what you could have done differently to strengthen that proposal or submission,” he explained. Knowing what you did wrong on a proposal can always help to eliminate potential errors in future applications.

Applicants looking to build relationships and improve their chances for winning future awards would be advised to take advantage of training such as this GPA conference, as well as through publications, webinars and forums sponsored by Thompson Information Services. Trust us, we’d always be happy to meet and build our own relationship with you!

Let us know what you think about O’Gilvie’s advice. As we always say, we’d love to hear from you.

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