After the Proposal: Follow up for Downstream Success
One area of grant proposal writing that is often overlooked by new writers – and seasoned writers as well – is follow up. After your proposal or letter of inquiry is received by the foundation, they decide whether to fund you or not – and then they send you a letter advising you of your proposal’s ultimate fate. Many grant proposal writers file and forget these responses. Big mistake!
Foundations generally are in business on a permanent basis. They take the long view. And when you come back next year asking for money again, they’re going to remember how you treated them the first time around. Whether you were polite or not isn’t likely to be the determining factor – but they will review their correspondence file with your organization, and they will notice whether you sent a follow-up letter or not. Since most organizations rarely follow up on a declination from a foundation, your organization will already be setting itself ahead of the pack by doing so.
You should send a follow up letter to every funder to whom you apply. Your letters should be warm, personalized and appreciative. You are writing to thank the funder for their time and consideration, not to ask for money, so you should feel free to be more informal than you might be under normal circumstances. Your letter may be generated from a template, but be sure to make it clear that you actually read their letter to you.
Use the opportunity of a follow up letter to begin the process of establishing building a relationship with the funder. Here is a sample follow-up letter:
Thank you for your letter of (date) indicating that XYZ Foundation will not be able to assist us with our project. We greatly appreciate your time and consideration in reviewing our proposal, and we understand that you receive many worthy requests that simply cannot be addressed with the resources at your disposal (Alternative: “we understand that our project does not align with the goals of your organization,” or whatever reason was offered by the grant maker for declining your request.)
Our organization is relatively new to seeking grants, and we would be grateful if you have any suggestions or guidelines o how our proposals could be more successfully reviewed by XYZ Foundation in the future.
In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about our organization and our mission to _______________, please visit our website at (www.website.org). Please don’t hesitate to contact me personally if you have any questions about our work.
Thank you again for your time and consideration of our request. I wish you the greatest success in your foundation’s ongoing work.
As in every facet of development, make follow up a priority and a part of your organization’s systems.
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