Go-To Guides




Making a Connection with the First Call

You're phoning a prospective funder. How can you increase the odds of getting a grant?

The key is establishing a relationship with a funder before you ever submit.
This relationship often begins over the phone. How you handle the first
phone call with a funder can make or break your chances of being funded.
Follow these tips to make the most of this crucial interaction.


Do your research

Review the foundation’s mission and funding guidelines. Ensure your organization’s vision is aligned to the vision of the foundation.

Timing is key

Reach out at least 4–8 weeks before a deadline. This shows initiative and gives you adequate time to prepare a submission before the due date.

Don't wing it

Sketch out short bullet points to help you keep the conversation focused on the most important ideas. Focus on connections and common ground.

Prepare to pivot

Think on your feet. Be ready to describe a “Plan B” or even a “Plan C” if the first idea you describe doesn’t pique the funder’s interest.

Know your aims

Call with a clear, genuine, and appropriate purpose. Don’t put the funder on the spot to ask outright if they will grant your request for funding.

Make an invite

Invite a funder to see your mission in action. While we practice social distancing, that might include a virtual site visit or sending photos.

Follow up

Send a thank you email after the call or meeting. If the funder didn't invite a proposal but was open to learning more, send an info packet, then plan to follow-up again.

Assess success

Was your call successful? It's a positive sign if the funder encourages a submission, accepts an invitation to meet, provides guidance for a stronger proposal, or suggests other funders you can approach. Well done!

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"We’re very proud to be part of The Giving Institute because it underscores our commitment to raising the bar in grant seeking and delivering the very best to our nonprofit clients."

Lauren Steiner


The highest standard in philanthropy.

We are proud that Grants Plus is part of The Giving Institute.


Since 1935, the Institute and its members have embraced and embodied the core values of ethics, excellence, and leadership in advancing philanthropy. Member firms embrace the highest ethical standards and maintain a strict code of fair practices. The Institute is devoted to promoting ethical giving, in large part through Giving USA – its annual report on philanthropy – which it has published since 1955.