Grant writers: Overcome fear and pick up the phone

Grant writers can be more successful if they reach out to potential foundation funders before they submit their proposals. The problem is: many grant writers skip this step.

Wendy Baird has seven simple ways to overcome this tendency.

“The number one thing I see hindering our grantwriting projects is staff members’ fear of calling potential foundation funders to introduce the organization and to inquire about the possible fit of project(s) with the funders’ interests… If they were given a choice, they would skip the phone call–the chance to start building a relationship–and submit the proposal blind.”

By skipping this cultivation phase, “you lose incredible opportunities to connect with people who can facilitate the funding you need,” she wrote in Kivi Leroux Miller’s blog. “It’s an extremely competitive environment and without a relationship, it can be hard to make your organization stand out among the many quality applicants.

“By conquering your fear of calling potential funders you increase your chances of submitting successful proposals immeasurably.  Most funders recognize that a short phone call benefits both parties, and (they) welcome phone calls.  They recognize that by helping to quickly determine if there’s a potential fit, a brief conversation can save them from reading through proposals they can’t fund, and (save) you from writing unsuccessful proposals.”

To overcome this fear, Wendy suggests:

  1. Acknowledge your fear.
  2. Do some research.
  3. Seek out a mentor.
  4. Schedule a time to make the calls.
  5. Make the call.
  6. Follow up.
  7. Celebrate your success.

Photo: Wendy Baird

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