Congratulations! You got the grant. And as the representative of a conscientious grantee organization, you set a reminder to submit the final report on time. But do not stop there! With so many technological tools at our fingertips, grant professionals can steward funders with greater ease, frequency, and personalization than ever before.
Thank You 2.0
Go beyond the formal acknowledgment letter. Place a call, write an email, or send a handwritten note to say “thank you” to your closest contact at the foundation. Depending on the foundation’s culture and personality, you might publicly acknowledge the grant in a celebratory Facebook post or news release. As the grant period progresses, capture key milestones via photo and video and share links to them with funders along the way.
Meet funders where they are: on social media. According to a survey by Foundation Center, 88% of community foundations, 55% of corporate funders, and 34% of family and independent foundations maintain a social media presence. Half of these foundations say they rely on social media to learn about trends and promote the work of their grantees. We know how pervasive social media has become in all of our lives and so the percentage of foundations active on social media has surely grown since this survey was conducted. This means you can safely assume many of your funders are using social media to follow what is happening in the sector.
Think of your organization’s social media accounts as a window into your work for funders and others. Invite funders to look by regularly posting organization news, photos, and stories, and linking to newsletters, events, and volunteer opportunities. Be sure to follow your funders, too, to stay current on their latest funding initiatives and priorities, as well as what and who they pay attention to.
Manage Your Profile
Your own website and social media sites are not the only online spaces where funders learn about your nonprofit. Regularly visit charity rating sites like Charity Navigator and GuideStar to monitor how your organization is represented to potential donors and funders, and take steps to correct inaccuracies and update old or incomplete information.
On the Record
Record the details of phone conversations, site visits, and other interactions with program officers and foundation trustees in your donor relationship database. Doing so will help you improve the quality and consistency of your communications and follow-through. Make sure every staff person who interacts with funders, from the grant writer to the CEO, understands the purpose and process for entering this relationship data.
The most direct way to steward foundations is to prove their investment is making a difference in the lives of the populations they care about. Spend the time and acquire the tools to appropriately collect and use data, so that your formal reports demonstrate effective programs and powerful outcomes.
Changes in technology have brought vast changes to how we steward and communicate with funders. While some grant makers may prefer to limit contact with grantees, many are looking for more. Follow their lead and let technology be your hook.