by Mandy Pearce
Are you writing grants with no real plan on the next steps if you do or don’t receive funding?
You need a plan. It’s not hard, and we are going to help you with the first few steps today.
While this list isn’t too complicated, but each item on the list is crucial.
You might be surprised at the number of organizations who don’t have an official process or plan for following up with donors, and foundations are certainly donors. There should be a plan in place for how to respond to all manner of gifts, including grants. This will help with relationship building, a well as donor retention, which are both critical to growing a successful development department.
My list of ‘to-dos’ is:
- Celebrate!!!!! Go ahead, do your little happy-dance around the office and let out a few ‘woohoos’ to your colleagues. You work hard and you should pat yourself on the back for a job well-done. Then move on to the important work of thanking the donor.
- Pick up the phone. First and foremost, you need to pick up the phone and call the donor to say thank-you. You may speak to the program officer, the executive director or CEO of the foundation, or possibly the board chair. It may be that you speak to several people and thank them for their various roles in helping make this opportunity possible. As long as you say thank-you immediately, you are on the right track.
- Thank before you bank. If you set a rule to thank a donor appropriately prior to depositing funds at the bank, you’d be surprised how much more quickly and efficiently your donor acknowledgments would go out.
If you get selected to receive grant funding, you should be thankful you were chosen and express that appropriately to the donor. Be sure you know what forms of acknowledgment the donor is amenable to before you start sending out press releases, articles in the paper, e-blasts, etc. Some donors are very intentional in asking for no recognition of their gifts. Make sure you respect these wishes. Other donors want all the recognition you can afford. Make every effort to know these things prior to being awarded funds so you can be on the ball when you are selected.
- Practice your handwriting. Next, take out the stationary or note cards and hand-write a thank you to the donor/company/organization. Be original and show your gratitude in this correspondence. There is no need to write a book. Get that puppy in the mail ASAP!
- Let the additional thank you and recognition efforts being. Then proceed to recognize the organization in the manner in which they request, and the manner which is appropriate for the size of their gift in any way that is in your donor recognition plan after phone calls and thank-you notes.
Ideas for recognition will vary based on the gift amount, the donor wishes, and the resources at your disposal. Some ideas may include:
- Banner stands with customized appreciation wording
- Thank you lunch/coffee with donor
- Tour of the program/project ‘in action’ as dollars are utilized
- Press releases to local media
- Social media posts
- Story in your organizational newsletter, annual report, website, social media post
- Bricks/tiles/walls of honor on construction projects
- Special presentation to the donor at a board meeting or annual meeting
- Presentation from a client/participant/beneficiary from the program/project at an event of the donor’s choosing
The list is endless for ways you can recognize a donor. In order for you to have an impact on the donor, you need to get to know what they will appreciate. Not what you think they should appreciate, or what you would appreciate, but what they will appreciate.
Most donors don’t want gifts, and that’s not why they give. Learn why the financial gifts are made before you plan the thankyou efforts.
Be sure to have a plan so you are not flying by the seat of your pants all year.
Need to know what to do if you DON’T get selected for funding? Check out this blog:
Happy Writing and Thanking!