Want to learn how to write stronger grant proposals? Maybe you're wondering how best to communicate with potential or existing donors? In this section you'll find answers to a host of commonly asked questions. Following the hints and advice below will help maximize your fundraising efforts.

Q: Do foundations object to unsolicited calls prior to submitting letters of inquiry or a grant proposal?
A: Generally speaking, the answer is 'no'. But foundations tend to react negatively to questions that, had you done your profile research beforehand, would not need to be asked. A timely call can help you establish a personal relationship with a potential donor, while making sure all their contact information is up to date. This initial phone call may even give you the chance to test out your ideas and find out whether submitting a grant proposal is worth the effort. A prior phone call may also make your name and organization stick in their mind when it comes time to review the application.

Q: How can I prepare a query letter or grant proposal?
A: The Writing Resources section and the Guide to Proposal Writing provide all the guidance you need to write professional letters of inquiry and grant proposals.

Q: How can I get an edge when applying for funding?
A: A strong record of financial performance and quality service delivery are key factors in obtaining an edge over competing grant seekers. Foundations fund the best and look for unique programs or projects that bring additional value or new knowledge to clients. Others donors will look closely at your financial history to ensure they're getting the most value for their dollars. Strong financial accounting and a low expense to program ratio are important factors in today's marketplace.

Q: What can I do to cement strong and long-lasting relationships with donors?
A: Managing relationships is as important in the fundraising world as it is in the corporate world. Here are few quick tips to follow:

  1. Always respond to inquiries from a program officer promptly. This will demonstrate to them that they are a priority to your organization.
  2. Customize communication whenever possible with personalized letters or handwritten notes. If you must send something generic like an annual report or newsletter, include a post-it note with the page number of a particular item of interest.
  3. Respect the program officer's time and be careful about the frequency and nature of all your communication. No one likes to be flooded with letters, phone calls, or e-mail messages. If you want to communicate with them, be sure you have a significant topic to discuss.
Q: Will a donor give my organization funding for operational or administrative expenses?
A: Yes. Some donors list operating expenses as an area of interest. But most will have to be convinced of the benefits to the community before they will consider supporting you.

Q: How can I get more information about fundraising terms and language?
A: For a complete list of fundraising terms and their definitions, visit the Donor's Forum.

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