How Much Do You Know About Your Sponsors?
When we talk about our relations, most people think of their family (for better or worse!). As a grant seeker, this word can have a much broader meaning for your nonprofit. Representatives of corporate and foundation funders who have given you grants in the past have a network of relations that include family, friends, and colleagues. How much do you know about them?
Let me tell you a true story about a small community arts organization. For many years, a local bank had sponsored this group’s largest fundraiser each year with a donation $7,500. The chairman of the nonprofit brought the new development director to meet the bank president. Being an experienced fundraiser, this new staff person noticed an interesting landscape painting in the president’s office. She asked about the painting and learned that the president’s wife was the artist. Pursuing this conversation, the development director learned that the president’s wife had a foundation which gave grants to arts groups in a neighboring state.
Why had this information never come up in the ten years that this bank had supported this arts organization? Because no one took the time to ask questions and learn more about the president’s family. This new staff person did and she made sure to extend a personal invitation to the president’s wife to be a guest at their upcoming major event. She then sent her a thank you note and invited her to attend a small gathering of artists. The wife attended and was so impressed that she went to the next meeting of her family foundation and convinced them to expand their geographic boundaries so that they could help the arts group her husband’s business had supported for years. Within six months, this foundation gave the arts group a $10,000 grant to sponsor a children’s art program. The next year the arts nonprofit received a larger grant and the following year, the president’s wife agreed to serve on their board of directors.
I love this story because it clearly demonstrates the importance of taking the time to build relationships with all of your funders – you never know what opportunities might arise.
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