Relationship Building to Increase Grant Funding


As you’re thinking about grant funding, keep in mind one of the key components - relationship building. Identifying possible funding sources is just one part of the process. The number one reason we see nonprofits not getting funding is that they don’t have a strategic plan that fits the capacity of the organization. Without a plan, it’s a bit like throwing spaghetti at the wall, all the while risking not getting funding and being able to provide desired programming.

Identifying funding sources is important but, and perhaps more importantly, so is developing relationships with professional grantwriters, nonprofit consultants, and funders. While it takes time, these relationships can make the difference in securing or not securing the monies needed for the future of your programs.

Develop a Strategy

Before writing a grant request, develop a strategy for relationship building to increase grant funding. The Rayvan Group offers a Fund Development Strategic Plan that assists organizations in aligning programs and serves as a guide to meeting objectives whether that is to fund an existing program or develop a new one. In addition to grant requests, nonprofits need to have a clear fundraising strategy. Not only is the strategic plan an important part of the grant funding process, it also provides the team and board of directors insight into the organization, clearly defines goals, and provides a way to reach said goals.

Reach Out to the Grant Funder

When you’re searching for a job, what do you do? You make a list of prospective employers and then reach out to friends, family, and colleagues who have connections at the desired employers to learn more and meet key people. It’s the same for grant funding.

Leverage the relationships of employees, volunteers, and board of directors to learn about the funders - and let them know who you are too. Some funders request a pre-grant interview and this is an opportunity to showcase your people and programs. Share information about the roles of each person in the organization, including volunteers and board. Ideally the interview includes the director, a board member, and a former client. Whether formal or informal, develop a working relationship with funders by picking up the phone and meeting in person. Ideally, by the time you submit the grant, the funders know your organization and programs.

Hire Experts

The process of leveraging relationships could be its own department within the organization and could potentially take over what should be the mission of the nonprofit. To prevent this from happening, consider hiring a professional grantwriter or a nonprofit consultant who understands the process and has connections to funding sources. Even if today it feels like a huge investment, their expertise will save time, money, and resources in the long run.

As crazy as it sounds, writing the grant request is the last part of the process. You’ve got to have a strategy developed and implemented, connections with key people, and the right funding sources. Without these, your time may be wasted on opportunities that will not come to fruition, jeopardizing the organization, or at the very least, a specific program. The last piece of the puzzle is to hire experts who are experienced in highlighting key programs and people, the result of which is increased grant funding for your organization.

Action steps you can take today