In many ways, cultivating donors who give through a grant process is much simpler than other kinds of fundraising. You have to do any required reporting and you have to ask again during the next grant cycle.
Reporting – Tell the donor what you did
A grant report is a document that tells the grantor that you accomplished compared with what you said you would accomplish in your grant request. Grantors are typically more sophisticated givers, so they like to know that you are actually using the money to accomplish what you said you would. Most grantors who require a grant report will give you a form to fill out.
The report for a grant might have elements that say that the organization serve x number of clients by providing y types of services. It might include a financial accountability component where you show a the difference between actual and budgeted expenses. You might need to share how you publicized the grant, or give a testimonial from a client that benefitted from the services. As in the grant writing, the key to reporting is to follow directions.
Larger grants (and grantors) might require a more complex style of reporting called ‘evaluation’. Evaluation is a technical process that tries to measure the impact of the grant funded activities rather than reporting the numbers of people served. Grantors that require evaluation make a distinction between outputs (the number of activities performed) and outcomes (the long-term effects of the program.)
What does this difference look like? Your organization might provide training that helps people write resumes and look for jobs. Reporting outputs would tell the grantor the number of people who successfully completed the program. Reporting outcomes, on the other hand, might tell the grantor that after one year, x% of the participants had some kind of job. This outcome is the fruit of an evaluation process that requires you to follow-up with participants a year after their training and finding out if the training has had the long-term impact that you intended it to have.
Annual funding – Ask Again
Other than reporting, the second major element to cultivating grantors is continuing to submit applications. Most grantors will allow an organization to ask for funding once a year, although you should look at their information and follow directions.
Make sure that you’re tracking your grantors and are still interested in supporting the kind of work you’re doing. While foundations don’t frequently change their focus, most of them have the power to do so.
It is acceptable to submit a proposal that is (very) similar to a successful proposal from the previous year, unless the foundation clearly states that they don’t like to support programs on an ongoing basis. In this case, you would need to find something different to ask for.
Once you’ve developed a good calendar of grantors who like to give to your organization, your primary job is to make sure that you submit your reports and applications on time. As long as you’re consistently doing what you said you were going to do, many grantors will be happy to keep helping you to do as the years roll on.