Greetings from GrantLessons!
Well we are all back from the national conference and I learned so much. It was great talking to so many of you. The most interesting thing that has happened in my life has nothing to do with the national conference and has everything to do with my first “great” grandson being born on Saturday, September 26, he has an impressive name Scott Joseph Gentry III. I am sure that he will do wonderful things for this world as he grows. Now we are going to move into an area called Marketing. The chapter Grants Committee and Marketing Committee need to work together.
Section IV – Marketing
Marketing is a critical component of the grant writing process. The following lessons focus on relationships; and the chapter website and Facebook.
Lesson #43 – Relationships
It is sometimes hard to establish a relationship with a funder because they do not want to appear to be biased in the decision making process of which organization gets funding. Read the application over at least three times. Frequently, one finds a statement like, “due to the number of applications received the funder cannot receive questions about the application” especially questions like, “Will my application be funded?” Once an application is submitted it can take from one month to six months before a determination is made. Again if the funder does not want calls do not make calls while you are waiting.
Sometimes a member of the foundation’s board of directors will call and want to meet with someone from the organization. Be sure that you return the call as soon as possible within one business day. If the funder wants to talk, invite them to your chapter house and show them around and be sure to focus your conversation around the program for which you are requesting money.
Once you receive funding you will find that either the funder wants recognition for their donation or they want to remain anonymous and do not want to be included in marketing efforts on your part. Be sure to respect their wishes.
So how does one impress a funder with information about the chapter outside the application? Marketing your chapter is very important. There is a reason why nearly every application asks for a website address. It is important to work with your website administrator to make sure all data is relevant and up to date. For instance, you do not want last year’s list of Board Members on your website. Be sure that your philanthropic program information provides information about the good work you are doing. Placing anecdotal stories from recipients on your website is a valuable addition to funders who rarely ask for this information in a application.
Do you have a Speakers Bureau, this is another great opportunity to express your appreciation to funders who help make the chapter’s philanthropic programs possible. Do you have a community newsletter, this is a great place to list those funders who provide grants and contributions. Do you have an ongoing DVD running in your thrift shop that shoppers view when they visit, this is another place to be sure and have a slide that covers those funders who want the recognition. Are you lucky enough to have a local radio or television commercial where you discuss your philanthropic programs and how they are funded? Do you have an annual report, be sure to list the funders and send them a copy. You have to remember you never know who you are having a conversation about the work you are doing and your ongoing need for funding! Word of mouth is still one of the most common ways to spread the news about your chapter.
Lesson #44 – Chapter Website and Facebook
A chapter’s website and Facebook page are great ways to provide more information to funders.
Nearly every application asks for the applicant’s website. What does your website say about your chapter? Does it look fresh or tired? Is the information up-to-date? Does your website still have last year’s Board of Directors when your application has this year’s Board of Directors? Do you have your financial documents posted on the website, i.e., Form 990 and audited financials? Do you have any recipient stories and/or pictures about your chapter’s work? Have you obtained GuideStar Gold standing and have you posted the widget on your website? A potential funder may look at your website to get more information about your operation.
A website contains static pages while Facebook pages are dynamic in that they are changing and create a timeline of events. Also others can make comments about your chapter’s posts. Facebook lets a funder see the human side of your work so Facebook pages should be populated with recipient pictures (be sure to get photo releases). Also, if a funder goes to your Facebook page and it has only a few “likes” that is not very convincing that your nonprofit organization has much public support. You should do a campaign so that your Facebook page has many “likes”.
Marketing both your philanthropic programs and your fund raising opportunities demonstrates to the community that the chapter is doing important work as well as raising money for its programs. However, running a Facebook page takes someone committed to finding fresh material and photos to put on Facebook. Again would your Facebook page convince a funder that your organization was the best. Like I am always saying, “You never really know who you are speaking to or who is reading about your chapter online”.
Catch me when you can and I will catch up with you soon! Sandie