Why do organizations poke the funder in the eye?

It happens all the time. You apply for a grant; you include lofty language about how amazing your organization is, you include data that demonstrates your impact and even testimonials from satisfied customers.

Then your organization is awarded the grant. And after the celebrations end, you make a series of blunders.

You stop communicating with the donor, thinking you only have to complete a final report twelve months after receiving the grant. And in the end, you poke the Funder in the Eye!

Don’t poke the funder in the eye. It sounds so simple, yet unfortunately, this act gets repeated all too often. I recall one event (yes this is true) where a performing arts organization wrote letters to their donors that included very negative statements about some elected officials they had approached for a grant – it’s just that the grant approval process was not moving along as fast as the organization expected it to. Care to guess how these elected officials responded when they saw the letter?

Here’s what you should do:

Thank the donor for awarding your organization. Ok, maybe you did do that. Now let’s move on to some important communication. Begin a plan to communicate monthly (yes monthly!) on the progress of your grant. Communicate both in writing and in person – offer to meet the funder in their office or over lunch. And here’s the key – when reporting back – be honest. If you haven’t met your goals, it’s ok to be honest with your funder. If you need clarification on a guideline, it’s ok to ask questions. The point it, learn to develop and expand upon your key relationships – both prospects and donors – by engaging in an open dialogue with your funders.

Because it’s never a good idea to “poke the funder in the eye”.

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