Funding sources, Fundraising

How to keep in touch with new grant-makers

Finding new sources of funding has never been more important for charities

However, it can be difficult not only to identify new grant-makers, but also to find out which ones are relevant, and how best to approach them.

One of the key findings from our research for The Guide to New Trusts 2016/17 was the importance of good communication between new grant-makers and potential applicants.

Online resources

Unfortunately, for many of the new grant-makers in our research, the information available was limited to the Charity Commission or OSCR record. While this is a useful and important starting point, its scope is often too limited to communicate all the key information for potential applicants.

A website, or even a social media account, can make a big difference. It doesn’t need to be flashy or expensive – just answering two key questions online will benefit both grant-makers and potential applicants: who is eligible to apply for funding, and how should they apply?

A good grant-maker’s website sets out clear, transparent eligibility criteria and up-to-date application guidance. This can prevent valuable time and resources being wasted by charities in writing and sending off fruitless applications, and avoids grant-makers having to reject ineligible requests. If a funder decides that they would prefer to proactively identify beneficiaries for their grants, rather than accepting unsolicited applications, it is equally important to make this information clear, for the same reasons.

Keep in touch with grant-makers

Active communication between grant-makers and applicants, by telephone or email, is perhaps more important in the early phases of a grant-maker’s development than at any other time.

We advise potential applicants that a preliminary phone call or email to the grant-maker to discuss eligibility, and to get an idea of their funding priorities, can save valuable time and resources, and help to tailor an application for success. Furthermore, establishing a good relationship with a funder in the early stages of their development can really pay off in the long run, and may even provide opportunities to shape their grant-making practices.

For new grant-makers, responding positively and proactively to such communication not only helps to prevent ineligible applications, but is also vital for keeping in touch with what beneficiaries, or potential beneficiaries, need, and finding out where there are gaps in provision or improvements to be made.

Reasons to be optimistic

It is encouraging to see that, despite increasing pressure and insecurity of funding being a common concern for charities, there are still many new grant-makers emerging every year. Good communication can enable charities to make the most of the exciting opportunities presented by a new funder. Equally, if new grant-makers get their communication right from day one, they can really maximise their potential to enable social change.