Contacting a Funder by Telephone

Contacting a Funder by Telephone

Before calling a funder to pitch an idea, be prepared. The person you speak with may have only a short time for a conversation, so preparation is essential. Be ready to provide the highlights of your organization’s program within a 10- to 15-minute conversation. This time frame includes the time it may take for the person to ask for clarification of any points. Grant seekers should remember that they are not selling their organization’s program to a funder; rather, they are attempting to make a connection between the program and the funding institution’s interest areas. To build a long-term relationship with the funder and with this particular representative, careful and engaged listening to the funder’s interests and providing information the funder wants is extremely important. In listening to the funder’s interests, you might discover – sometimes very early in the conversation – that in fact there is not a match between your organization’s program and the funder’s current funding priorities; that is why grant seekers should have one or two other program ideas in mind to present as a backup. Do not waste this opportunity with the funder; be fully prepared with information on identified unmet needs that may fit into the funder’s interest areas. Finally, make sure to reiterate any follow-up steps resulting from the call and to send a quick thank-you email for the program officer’s time.

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