YOUR GO-TO GUIDE FOR
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.
EIGHT STEPS TO MAKING A MEANINGFUL CONNECTION
Do your research
Review the foundation’s mission and funding guidelines. Ensure your organization's priorities are aligned to those 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
Consider inviting a funder to an in person meeting or site visit to show off your mission in action. Some may decline, but there’s no harm in asking.
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.
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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ABOUT 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.