What to Ask Potential Funders

What questions should you ask potential funders?

How do you start a new relationship with a potential funder? What questions do you ask a potential funder?

You have done all of the prep work. You have gone through the funder’s website.  You follow their social media profiles and posts. You have subscribed to their newsletter. You have put their webinars and events on your calendar. You have created a snapshot profile of your potential funder as it relates to your organization’s mission and strategic plans. (There were a LOT of assumptions in that statement, right? We know many funders don’t have webinars or some don’t even have websites. We know you looked and documented what you found. You are just that good!) 

Now what?

Making Contact

You want to contact the funder before you ask for funding.  Should you do that with every funder? We asked that question of Mark Larimer, VP of Marketing and Customer Relations at Foundant Technologies and Tammy Tilzey, Grant Hub Director, on in our live interview.  In Mark’s opinion (and in ours) the only time you should not contact a potential funder prior to submitting a grant application is when it is not allowed, e.g. federal contacts when a federal grant is open.

If funders are not willing to talk to you it tells you a lot about what they will be like to work with. – Mark Larimer

Both Tammy and Mark shared their ideas and suggestions for opening an authentic dialog with potential funders. Key to that dialog is to be interested in the funder’s and or the person’s passion about the direction the organization is going, about their grantees, or about their vision.

What if You Discover There is Little Alignment

You have asked the potential funder about their passion and what priorities the funder will be investing in with upcoming grants and, low and behold, your organization and the funder’s priorities are going in different directions. Have you wasted your time? Have you wasted the funder’s time? No, you haven’t. In fact, as Tammy mentioned, even if their passion isn’t directly aligned with what you do or what your organization does listen and consider the information for others in your network.  Do you know a nonprofit who would be a great fit for that funder’s vision? Make that connection and recommend that nonprofit to the funder.  When you contact and ask a potential funder about their organization your goals can be broader than you own organization. You are building authentic relationships and your network. You can serve your own organization as well as partner organization and nonprofits that serve your clients.

Great Questions to Ask Potential Funders That Lead to Better Results

Asking great questions that lead to authentic connections and a better understanding of the human representing the funder and the organization they work for can leadto  stronger relationships and better investments of  time and money – on both sides of the relationship. Our sponsors over at SmartEGrants compiled a  list of great questions ask potential funders.   Many of these questions were suggested by our brilliant GrantChat community members – talk about authentic relationships and building networks! You can find them here in our GrantChat Storify. 

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