How to Show Appreciation to Funders (and Non Funders!) That Will Get You Noticed
By Amy Shankland
You got the grant. You’ve celebrated with your staff or client and the organization is ready to implement the project. You’ve already talked about both the regular and financial reporting requirements and are feeling ready to go.
Or… you didn’t get the grant. In the best case scenario, you’ve talked to the funder to find out what you could have done better and why the panel didn’t select your application. In the worst case scenario, you had to find out that you didn’t get the grant through some online article. The funder didn’t even email you a rejection (don’t we all love those cases?)
In either situation, you need to send the funder a thank-you. Yes, you read that right – whether you are funded or not, you absolutely have to show the funder some appreciation. And not just a two-sentence thank you that you dashed off in an email, either.
Not that an email thank you note is a bad thing. More on that later.
I know grant professionals are busy people, and taking the time to write a good thank you note may seem unnecessary. But now, more than ever, the personal touch of a real “thank you” can help an organization rise above others in the competitive world of grants. In fact, if you’re not funded, it can help you move to the front of the line in the next application round.
So what are some great ways to thank a funder? I’ll start with some simple ideas:
- Have one of the organization’s clients write the thank you. Why not delegate? This can be anything from a heartfelt drawing from a child who has benefitted from an after school program to a beautiful note written by a senior citizen who now has transportation to medical appointments. Talk about an impact!
- Pass a thank you card around at the next staff meeting to have everyone sign it. A real card that you can actually send snail-mail style. This is also a way to delegate, but is still effective.
- Take pictures of the project in action and email them to the funder (remember when I said an email thank you note isn’t a bad thing?) This is probably one of my favorite ways to show appreciation to funders. I simply take a couple of photos and email them to the program officer with a big headline saying “YOU made this happen!” The agency can then share them with their board, the grant panel, etc.
- Use social media. A true no brainer, right? Check with the funder for a good hash tag and promote the heck out of them with it.
You can take some other steps that are a bit more work, but can really “knock their socks off”.
- Host a yearly “thank you” breakfast. Have staff and board members serve a continental breakfast, hopefully donated from restaurants and stores, to local funders. This takes no more than a couple of phone calls and 90 minutes on a weekday morning, but can make a huge impression.
- Host a “thank a thon” with board members making actual phone calls to express appreciation to granting agencies. Prepare a simple script for each board member, give him or her 4-5 program officers to call, and you’re done.
- Have a site visit with a “thank you” theme. Not only will grantors get to see the project in action, but they’ll be personally thanked by some of the individuals who are benefitting from it. Talk about powerful!
There are literally dozens of additional ways you can show appreciation to funders, but these are my favorites. Feel free to share what you like to do in the comments. But remember, no matter what, always take the time to show a funder appreciation. It will definitely pay off in the future.
Amy Shankland is a former Associate with SNF Writing Solutions and guest blogger.