10 Ways to Improve Relationships with Grantmakers

Each funder has its own approach to how it makes its grantmaking decisions. Each grantmaker also has its own unique capacity and preference as it relates to building relationships with potential and current grantees. 


While there is not one universal way to successfully approach a grantmaker to build or enhance a relationship, these ten tips are tried and tested ways that have worked to build stronger relationships with numerous grantmakers and these tips *may* help you in building stronger relationships with grantmakers for YOUR organization.


These ten tips aren’t in any specific priority order, but rather, are all of equal importance for you to consider patting yourself on the back for doing already (I’m cheering right along with you!), or you might try the idea in your own organization.


  1. Express sincere gratitude beyond the formal and required payment acknowledgment letter and at unexpected times.
  2. Reach out to request advice, when appropriate, and outside of asking for feedback on your next anticipated request.
  3. Don’t treat grantmakers like an ATM. Reach out and connect more often, rather than only when you need to reapply for funds again.
  4. Do your homework before reaching out to build a relationship with a potential new grantmaker.
  5. Do what you say you will, when you say you will, and how you say you will.
  6. Promote your funding partnership/relationship as appropriate for the grantmaker’s desires (regardless of whether they are on all the same networks as your organization or not).
  7. Bring your board and other stakeholders into the process by asking them to make warm introductions to contacts with grantmakers. (Reassure your board members that you are  NOT asking them to lean on a grantmaker and influence the decision making process.)
  8. Promote the other work supported by your grantmakers. If your work is aligned, your network will also be interested in the other great things your grantmaker is supporting.
  9. Ask each grantmaker what is allowable and/or of interest with regards to their participation in your organization’s events. Make them feel welcome within your organization.
  10. Never miss a deadline. NEVER, whether a formal deadline stated by the grantmaker, or one that you (your organization) informally commit to for providing an item.


Do you have a tip that you might add to our list? Leave us a note or reach out and let me know what other tips you have.



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