How to Reach Out to Grant Funders Who Are ‘Invite Only’
The grant world is competitive, and private foundations are becoming selective in accepting grant proposals. Grants that are ‘invite only’ can feel intimidating for nonprofits, but they shouldn’t be written off completely!
If you haven’t been ‘invited’ to submit a proposal, here are a few outreach strategies you can implement to bridge the gap.
- Leverage your current funders. Consider asking one of your current funders to facilitate an introduction to the invite only organization. It is validating to a funder to be introduced by someone who has already invested in your organization. These warm introductions will go a long way in building trusting, established relationships.
- Hone in on your funding strategy. After that initial introduction has been facilitated, consider sharing your funding strategy to the invite only funder. It shows them that you have a plan, and is a solid way to gather some feedback. It’s a great sign when a potential funder is willing to facilitate an introduction with the invite-only funder, because it means they like what you are doing and are willing to trust you with their reputation.
- Start networking. In addition to utilizing your own network, ask your board members or other leaders in your organization if they have any connections. Networking in a pandemic looks a little different now, but the connections are still there. Instead of coffee dates and happy hour events, start looking for virtual webinars, trade shows, training sessions, etc. If you find a funder who’s mission aligns with yours, share their board member and staff list with your own leadership team. You never know when a connection might be made!
- Be prepared. Should a connection be established, you’ll want to have collateral ready to present. Prepare a one-page overview ahead of time and send it to the invite only funder once the connection is made. This will give them time to familiarize themselves with your organization.
- Meet the funder where they are. Start researching what events and workshops your invite only funder(s) are attending. Being able to meet funders where they are allows for a more natural connection. While you want to make yourself known, don’t overdo it. Start by getting to know the funder on a personal level and exchanging contact information. Sending an email is the simplest way to introduce yourself. While it may not yield a result right away, it could be the beginning of a partnership down the road.
What other outreach strategies has your organization used to create relationships with invite only funders? Leave us a comment below!
At RBW Strategy, our goal is to develop fundraising content that highlights your organization’s unique voice through a strong case for support. We provide public-serving organizations of any size with high-quality, customized strategic fundraising consulting services. Learn more about working with us, and don’t hesitate to contact us today.