Should you call grant funders when you’re considering applying for a grant?
Unless their website says no phone calls, I say YES, absolutely call grant funders. But HOLD ON a minute – before you start speed dialing, make sure you’re well prepared for the phone call. Here’s what I mean.
First, do your homework:
- Read through their website to get a feel for their areas of interest, restrictions, and previous projects.
- Look through the application questions and budget requirements.
- Read the grant guidelines thoroughly. Note any deadlines, required documentation, etc.
- Make a list of items that are unclear, ideas for your possible project, or other questions that arise.
In short, don’t be lazy by expecting them to do the background work for you. Do the research so you can ask intelligent questions. Your goal is to glean helpful information that’s NOT on their website.
Now you’re ready to make the phone call. Here’s my script for how I handle it when I call grant funders:
- My name is ________. I’m working with the ABC Non-Profit Center in This Town, USA.
- We are considering applying for your XYZ grant program and have a few questions about the application. Is this a good time for you? [If they say yes, go on. If not, ask when you can call back or if you can email them. Go for the phone call first if possible though.]
- I see that you’re interested in ______ types of programs. We work with this quite a bit through our ______ services.
- We had a project idea that we think would fit well with the grant program. Could I get your feedback on the idea? [If yes, briefly explain what you’re thinking of requesting in the application.]
- [Depending on how the previous question goes, you may want to ask this one in addition or instead.] I see that in the past you’ve funded _____ types of projects. Can you tell me what types of things you’re looking for this application cycle?
- Could you please clarify what you’re looking for with ______ [insert specific thing you read on their website, something that is unclear in the instructions, etc.]?
- Any other advice or tips you have for applying?
- Thank you, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me. Is it all right to email you if other questions come up?
That’s it! Almost every single time, the program officer will be more than happy to talk with you. It’s what they’re there for. After all, it makes their job easier by increasing the likelihood of better quality applications. So give it a shot and let me know how it goes!
Want a downloadable PDF copy of the script? Fill out the box below and I’ll send it over to you.
Do you call grant funders when you’re considering a grant application? What’s your biggest hurdle? Share in the comments.