Today’s Guest Blog is by Just Write Solutions Associate, Jennifer Rathburn.
Recently, I have noticed a distinct change in response when making cultivation phone calls for clients. When calling various Foundations, I have found conversations going something like this:
Me: “Hello! My name is Jennifer Rathburn and I am calling on behalf of Organization ABC. We provide X service to the Y community and are reaching out to see if your Foundation is funding. We believe we are a good match for your past giving and want to be sure that our focus areas still align.”
Foundation Rep: “You can find all of the information about our grants online at our website. Do you have our website address?”
Definitely not an open door for conversation…
On a positive note, the rise in technology has allowed Foundations to put the majority of the grant information on their website including: Foundation history, Foundation Board of Directors, areas of interest, application process, deadlines, reporting requirements, etc. This allows grant seekers the ability to research funding opportunities with ease and provides the grant makers a streamlined approach to getting information out to the public and accept proposals online.
However, has the rise in online grant making made us lose the need for cultivation calls for relationship-building? As I am making phone calls and receiving the above response from many, I question the need to continue reaching out to funders who seem disinterested in engaging by phone. It is in these times that I go back to the words of a very wise women (Heather Stombaugh, JWS Principal Consultant and Grants Guru) who said “We know people give to people. Building and managing relationships through cultivation and stewardship are every bit as critical to the grants process as they are to major giving.”
We need to continue to reach out and foster partnerships with funders. Not for the good of our bottom line but for the good of the people we serve. So, let’s work to embrace technology in the grant making process while keeping alive the “dinosaur” of a relationship-builder that is the first phone call.
How are you cultivating relationships with grant funders?