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How Cultivation is Your Winning Writing Strategy

Apr 15, 2024News

By Guest Writer Rachel Werner, Owner and CEO of RBW Strategy, a woman-owned grants consulting firm located in the Washington, DC, area.

There are a couple of different ways to focus on getting funding. One of the most common ways is to wait for a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) and then quickly put a proposal together that suits the demands of the request for proposal (RFP). When it comes to government funding opportunities, this is the best way to go about things!

However, if you’re working with private funders, it’s incredibly important to spend time cultivating a relationship with them and getting to know what works best for them!

Why You Should Focus on Cultivating Relationships with Funders

When it comes to funding, one of the best things you can do is spend time researching your funders and figuring out which grantmakers align well with yours. The more you know about your funders, the better you can tailor proposals!

Create a list of funders from whom you currently receive funding, and you can consistently nurture the relationship and keep up with what they’re doing. Understanding their priorities and why they are making certain decisions gives you an advantage when you begin writing up a proposal. Whenever you find another funder that you think would work well with your organization, based on established criteria captured during prospect research, be sure to add them to the list!

Cultivating a good relationship with these funders means keeping the line of communication open on your end throughout the year, as well. Show them how you’re using their funding and keep them up to date with organization happenings. This will keep you front of mind when FOAs come around.

Maintaining your focus on your funders can help your organization better understand your target funders’ funding cycle, trends, and guidelines for when you’re ready to submit your proposal. A strong understanding of all of these can make the grant writing process much easier and more effective.

How to Focus on Building Rapport with Funders

There are a few steps that your organization can take to start cultivating strong relationships with your funders:
Cultivating a good relationship with these funders means keeping the line of communication open on your end throughout the year, as well. Show them how you’re using their funding and keep them up to date with organization happenings. This will keep you front of mind when FOAs come around.

Maintaining your focus on your funders can help your organization better understand your target funders’ funding cycle, trends, and guidelines for when you’re ready to submit your proposal. A strong understanding of all of these can make the grant writing process much easier and more effective.

  • Create a long-term funding strategy. Having a strategy in place early on will streamline the grant funding application process, making it easier to know which funders you want to work with. Ideally, you want to have a plan that spans 12-18 months.
  • Identify specific funders. Consider funders that you’ve worked with previously and do research on new ones in the meantime. Once you have a portfolio of funders that you know and enjoy working with, the time necessary to draft proposals and do research will diminish as you might glean useful information during the pre-proposal stage.
  • Position yourself competitively. When you have a strategy, a relationship with grant funders, and have the necessary amount of time to pull together a comprehensive, well-thought-out proposal, funders are more likely to consider you.

Carve out a specific amount of time each month to do the research and have key stakeholders weigh in so that funder outreach and communication becomes a part of your processes and overall writing strategy.

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