Of course! As long as you are honest in your representation of what you need and up front when donor asks who you are soliciting to support your program/project, there is no reason why you can’t go to multiple donors. In fact, a lot of donors want to know you have solicited numerous supporters for your cause.
Why, you ask?
Well, if a donor knows that you have solicited several organizations/individuals for support and perhaps you have some proposals out there that are pending approval, some have been approved, some have been declined and you have money in hand for others… then they know their dollars are not the only dollars that will make or break your ability to move forward.
A lot of people I talk to are very hesitant to share the list of folks they are asking, or have asked for support, because they think it will deter potential donors from selecting their organization for support. If you build a good relationship with a donor, you will know what they are looking for and why they are asking those types of questions.
Think about this as well.
If one foundation sees you have support from other foundations or individuals, they are more likely to think your project must have merit if others are willing to invest in it. It is important to be up front with donors in another way. If you receive excess funding for a project because you have solicited multiple prospects, you need to reach out to the donors who ‘put you over your goal’ and explain what has happened. A great line I like to use is this:
“Thank you so much for selecting our program/project for funding. I wanted to reach out to you and let you know that we have been very blessed and have received more funding that we initially requested. Your dollars are very much appreciated and I would like to ask if it might be possible to use these funds towards …. (and here you need to fill in the blank with an addition to your project, add dollars to line items that already exist, offer another project etc.) which we could also very much use at this time. We would be happy to revise the original proposal for your records if this might be a possibility.”
Keep in mind that the donor may say no, and in that case you would need to return the funding. I rarely see donors/foundations request their money back in these cases, but it does happen. If you have built the strong relationship with the donor that you should have, this will likely be a fairly painless conversation. Be upfront and honest. It would be unethical to use those dollars for anything other than the way(s) outlined in the grant without approval from the foundation or individual beforehand.