Grant seekers have a much greater chance of receiving grants from foundations and other grant makers that they already have a relationship with.  This is especially true for nonprofits seeking foundation grants, but also applies to all grant seekers.  If this is your first time applying for a particular grant, this is your opportunity to set your organization apart.  Even if you are not awarded the grant, this is an opportunity to form a relationship and boost your chances in the next grant cycle.

How can you set yourself apart within the grant application process?

1. Ask questions

Attend webinars regarding the grant.  Contact the grant maker with questions you may have.  Start a dialogue and clarify what they are looking for.  Then, utilize their feedback within grant application.  This continues the dialogue and shows that your organization can listen and respond, and that you are committed to working with the funder.

2. Don’t gloss over who you are in the grant application.

It can be tempting to copy-paste boiler plate content when it comes to introducing your organization in the grant application.  Do not fall into this trap.  Of course, you can use boilerplate content as the basis to describe who you are, but don’t rely solely on that.  This is your opportunity to show the grant maker who you are and highlight goals and values your organizations share.

3. Ask for feedback on your application.

Whether or not you receive the grant, always ask for feedback on your application.  Not only is this a learning experience, but it is also a relationship-building opportunity.  Keep the dialogue going even after the grant application.  This shows that your organization is committed to growing and evolving and committed to building a long-term relationship with the funder.  Then, in the next grant cycle, you can show the funder that you have taken their feedback seriously. 

4. Subscribe to their newsletter.

Whether it is a federal grant maker, a foundation, or other organization, subscribe to their newsletter so you can keep abreast of what they are up to and how their goals and priorities shift.  You can keep track of key leadership so you will know who you are talking to when writing grant applications.  If there are events or other opportunities that fall in line with your organization, make an effort to participate.  You want them to recognize you when you apply in the next grant cycle. 

It may take a couple of rounds with each funder to establish a relationship.  Start setting your organization apart from the rest of the pile of applications by showcasing who you are and put your organization’s name in their mouth!