The best way to get a foundation’s attention and increase your grant application’s chances of succeeding is to simply pick up the phone and call the foundation before you submit.
There are several purposes this serves. Often, foundations may update their grant guidelines internally and fail to post them in the Foundation Directory Online. They might even fail to put them on their own website! It’s always best to get the latest straight from the horse’s mouth. They may even give you advice you wouldn’t otherwise have received. Even small, relatively minor pieces of information can help improve your foundation grant application. Maybe you learn a tip that helps your application gain an edge over the competition; you never know what you might find out.
Calling a foundation serves another purpose, too. It gets your organization’s proverbial foot in the door, letting the foundation know you’re interested in forming a partnership with them. Speaking to a person helps build a much stronger connection than simply submitting an foundation grant application or letter of inquiry cold. That personal touch can go a long way in the success of your grant application.
All this said, some funders simply do not want you to call them, or even contact them at all. You’ll find it pretty obvious if this is the case. The foundation website may say something along the lines of, “Don’t call us.” If you see this, honor it. The funder means it, and contacting them anyway (ignoring their directives) will just antagonize them. In this case, calling the foundation might actually hurt your application’s chances more than it will help.
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