*Note from Diane: We are thrilled to have a guest post today presenting a point of view directly from a grant maker. I am honored to be a part of the LEAD Council for the Northern New York Community Foundation and to be a part of their work in Northern New York. Our guest post today stemmed from the great dialogues Max and I have when I stop in to their new Philanthropy Center between meetings.
Guest Post By Max DelSignore
Assistant Director, Northern New York Community Foundation (Watertown, NY)
A couple envelopes arrive in the mail each week. The enclosed materials are usually the same. A few typed or hand-written sentences put together on a tri-fold, one-page document. Other paperwork may be attached – inserts, publications, or maybe news clippings.
This is the makeup of an obligatory grant report from a non-profit organization. It symbolizes the conclusion of another successful community project. Community foundations across the country receive these required updates.
However, a grantee may decide these documents aren’t enough. The support received is much more than a transaction, so they decide to do more. What comes next can be a tipping point for future support of your organization.
You could hear the excitement from the screen, even though there was no sound.
A local non-profit housing organization recently launched a pilot program to introduce community gardening and healthy nutrition options to families residing in a low-income neighborhood. A $2,000 grant was made by our Youth Philanthropy Council at the Northern New York Community Foundation (Watertown, New York) to support this initiative. When the award was announced, an email was shared with a two-word, all-CAPS statement:
This was only the beginning of the message.
The organization’s director was enthusiastic to share the outcomes of this program. After the project was completed, the director conveyed her appreciation to our organization by requesting an on-site presentation to complement her grant report.
This response is every funder’s dream. It is a demonstration of “next-level” gratitude.
The director conducted a 30-minute presentation in her organization’s board room. The images and testimonials were powerful. The emotions were real. A seemingly modest grant made a meaningful impact on a number of local families.
This organization hopes to expand its program to other apartments and neighborhoods in the future. They maximized their initial funding and created a sustainable program model. We discussed funding options and steps to consider when the next projects were ready. It should come as no surprise that our meeting ended with a hug.
Gratitude has no boundaries. As a grantee, extending a “thank you” beyond the report can carry tremendous value with a funder. An extra act of gratefulness from an organization makes a grantor feel less like an ATM and more of a community ally and friend.
Examples of “next-level” gratitude to a funder or supporter may include:
- A hand-written note or phone call from the program/project coordinator, non-profit director or organization’s board president.
- Conduct a special site visit to present the outcomes of a program/project.
- Provide additional data or details to emphasize how a funder or donor’s investment was valuable to the program/project.
- Special invitation and access to a “grand opening” or community reveal event.
- Share examples of public recognition for support (annual reports, newsletters, social media, etc.).
Why does “next-level” gratitude matter?
- The investment in your organization’s program/project made a clear difference.
- The grantee was excited to receive and utilize the support for its intended purpose.
- A stronger relationship is forged and your kindness will be remembered.
- Future collaborations (and funding) are more likely.
- The passion is palpable! Your organization, mission and work matters to you.
Before you put postage on that next grant report, think about your “thank you.” Great results can be achieved through “next-level” gratitude. Take a few extra minutes, plan your approach, and make sure your follow up is genuine. Every funder and supporter will be thankful that you did.
What do you think about Max’s message about “next-level” gratitude. How have you approached this idea successfully in your organization? What barriers have you had to carrying out your ideas? We’d love to hear! Share your stories in the comments section on the website, or via social media.