How to plant the seeds in a funder’s cultivation garden

Here are 20 things to keep in mind to help you obtain a funded project


Funders want to fund programs they believe will be successful.

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Cultivating a relationship between a nonprofit and its funders is an essential key to the success of organizations in grantseeking. It requires a lot of networking, patience and persistence.

A funder needs to understand the organization’s mission and work, and a non-profit needs to comprehend the funder’s giving priorities and grantee expectations. The relationship will grow into a beautiful alliance to support those in need and the community served.

Are you curious about how to plant the seeds in the funder’s cultivation garden? Here are 20 things to keep in mind to help you obtain a funded project.

Get to know the funder

  • What type of foundation are they?

  • What is their mission?

  • What are they passionate about?
  • What organizations have they previously awarded a grant to?

Get the funder’s attention

  • Connect with the board/employees of the funder through a mutual connection.
  • Make your story relatable to members of the foundation.
  • Launch a campaign that matches the funder’s interest.
  • Volunteer at an event they are hosting, or invite them to volunteer at an event you are hosting.

Build a relationship with the funder

  • Invite the funder to your organization or an event you are hosting.
  • Ask the funder for advice and suggestions.
  • Make the funder feel like they are a part of your team.
  • Funders want to help organizations they know and trust.

Prepare your proposal

  • Answer every question and follow all directions (i.e., word or character count, complete sentences, font size, etc.) in the grant application.
  • Attach all required documents (i.e., audited financials, tax forms, or 501C3 IRS determination letter) to your grant application.
  • Be prepared to present your grant proposal to the foundation board or the grant panel (not all foundations require this).
  • If your grant application is approved for funding, ensure you know all the post-award conditions of the grant.

Keep the funder informed

  • Meet all reporting and accounting requirements during the grant period.
  • Share progress of the funded program beyond the funder’s expectations.
  • Keep the funder up to date on developments, successes, and new grants given to your organization.
  • Re-visit with the funder in the future for funding of new projects or programs for your non-profit.

Best of luck with your grant proposals. Funders want to fund programs they believe will be successful. Collaboration with other nonprofits is also priceless. Do not give up!