Insight Grants

Communication with Foundations

Grant writing consultants with experience mostly in government grants, or those who have worked for a grant firm or within an organization, often have questions when they begin to communicate with foundations.

While there aren’t necessarily “rules” for the following situations,  here is how Insight generally handles them:

When contacting a grant-making foundation, do you e-mail from your own e-mail address or use an applicant organization member’s address? Do you identify yourself as helping to write the grant, or as a member of the organization, or simply wait to see if you are asked to identify yourself when you contact the foundation?

This depends on the reason for contacting the grant-making foundation. If we are just looking for information to determine whether our client is eligible – what the rules are for applying, where priorities currently lie, etc., we just use our own email addresses, and then pass on what we learn to the client as the information is relevant. If the grant-making foundation needs to be contacted to build a relationship, we usually encourage the applicant to make contact with the foundation because we are consultants and may very well not be in the picture in the future to continue the relationship (though we may advise our client of text to include in the email or phone conversation,  to help them obtain all of the information necessary). Whenever possible, applicant organizations should build their own relationships with their existing and potential funders. That said, in the occasional case the client is not able to do that at the time contact needs to begin, we send emails to the grant-making foundations from our accounts with our client contacts included, so the two entities can be connected and begin building a relationship moving forward.

Can you ask a foundation for examples of Letter of Intent/Grant Applications from previous successful applicants?

You can, but I’m not sure whether you’d get them. It probably depends on the foundation. A better bet may be to obtain a list of some awardees and try to reach out to them directly. Always bear in mind that one organization’s winning application can be another organization’s losing application. Applications must be specific to the applicant in order to be effective. This sometimes means significant presentation differences.

Should the Letter of Intent/Grant be submitted as work of a member of the applicant organization?

I’m not sure it matters. We submit things for our clients all the time and we never say either way who did the work. If you are a consultant rather than a member of the organization and you submit something via email for your client, just be sure you make it clear in your email who at the applicant organization can be contacted with questions, and how (email, phone number). The foundation won’t care who did the writing on the Letter of Intent or application. They just want to receive a well-developed, applicant-specific application and to know who to get in touch with, should they need to.

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