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A Taboo Subject in Fundraising and Grant Seeking

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Today's Blue Advocado (a terrific nonprofit newsletter) shares horror stories "True Stories of Grant Seeking" about arrogant foundation giving officers.

It's a must read- especially for beginning fundraisers who need to understand the rules of the game.Unfortunately, many program officers of foundations act like it's their money to give away and can be awfully high-handed to grant seekers.

The article shares story after story of inappropriate behavior by the grant officers. The most blatant is the corporate giving officer who called to tell the fundraiser that their proposal had been received and was under review. This person then proceeded to ASK the fundraiser for a $250 contribution to a cause she personally supported. As we say in the south, "Lord have mercy!"

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The Secret to Securing Long Term Support from a Foundation

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The Agitator Blog this morning has a thoughtful and poweful discussion of what "cultivation" really looks like. And they totally nail the key to developing a long term funding relationship with a foundation.Andrew Kramer, of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) in Houston, wrote in a long comment about his strategies for developing deep relationships with his donors. He focuses a lot on foundations because he raises a large amount of his revenue from these types of funders.He says "I’ve learned that most foundations treat honesty and candid feedback about what happened as their primary form of involvement in our organization. They’ve never come to us and said that we should run our program a certain way, they just ask us to think about what happened and there is tremendous value in that since most individual donors never do that."Even with our foundations, the objective is never just to look at them as pools of cash for our benefit–the real value is in the fact that they require us to think about our programs and offerings, and then again that throughout the year they require us–sometimes in very thoughtful ways–to measure and assess what we’re doing."Now here's a fundraiser who knows what he's doing!How refreshing to hear that the foundations are not being considered as just "pools of cash" - but they also bring an added benefit to the orgaization.How refreshing again to hear that he does not consider the reporting back to foundation funders as a drag - but instead as a benefit, because thinking deeply about outcomes, and measuring what they are doing is USEFUL!How many organizaitons are prepared to offer frank and candid feedback about what happened to their funders? Are you willing to be so transparent? Or do you sugarcoat things when you report back?It's really hard to be totally frank with a funder. Funded projects almost always have breakdowns and challenges - that's part of trying to change the world! And during a project, sometimes we have to change course because the landscape has changed on us.But I have found over the years that if you go back with frank and candid feedback about the project, what you learned, what you'd do differently, what worked, what the challenges were - funders love this kind of honesty and realism. And they will trust you when you come back to ask again.