5 ways to keep your grantmaker happy

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5 ways to keep your grantmaker happy

5 ways to keep your grantmaker happy

You've got the funds, now how do you make sure your grant manager remains confident they've made the right decision? Former grant manager Oliver Carrington sets out the basics


Even after the payment is safely in your charity’s account, it doesn’t mean it’s time to relax or disappear.

The benefits of building a good relationship with your grant manager are not limited to securing that future grant. You can get an insight into their world, which will make potential discussions easier. Even if the staff member you work with changes jobs, they may pop up again employed by another grantmaker in the future.

So here are five simple hints to help build a long-lasting relationship with your funder:


1.     Take the initiative


Now isn’t the time to go silent. Some charities can go rather quiet once the grant has been paid, but this is the perfect time to make a good impression, and to test the boundaries of your relationship.


At the same time, grant managers who might have appeared very formal or reluctant during the application process may change tack now that you are a grantee.

Remember, it can be an anxious time for grantmakers too, as they wonder whether they have made the right choice. Showing gratitude and enthusiasm at this time, therefore, can really pay off. Ensure they have been thanked on social media. Consider sending a letter too, as this is more likely to be read by their trustees.


2.     Keep them warm


It’s wise to stay on a grant manager’s radar, so send regular updates on the project’s progress or significant milestones. Ask them if they’d like to receive your newsletter; mention their support when you talk about the charity’s work in public; send them impact reports, annual reviews, even Christmas cards.

At the same time, be careful not to overdo it. All funders are different, so try to determine the level of involvement which works best for them. You are only one of many they are hearing from, and excessive contact can do more harm than good.


3.     Send invites


Nothing beats a bit of face-to-face. Meeting up one-on-one can give you valuable contextual information, which often isn’t possible by phone or email.

But even if they are unlikely to attend – many grant managers work in small teams and simply don’t have the time – it is still worth sending event invites to keep them up to date. One creative grantee in my portfolio convinced me to witness their scheme first-hand by signing up as volunteer and helping renovate a garden of a disabled young person. This left a real impression.


4.     Be honest


Be open about challenges you encounter along the way. Funders don’t want to hand-hold, but if any significant changes occur in the project they funded it is always best to confess. It is never in the grantmaker’s interest simply to pull funding – generally, if you give them enough notice, you can work together to try and overcome the challenges together.

Similarly, don’t try to pull the wool over their eyes in project reports. Treat grantmakers like partners, and share any learning points. If you can successfully communicate these, the funder will feel like they can trust you.


5.    Update contact details


Finally, I can’t over-estimate the importance of getting the basics right. A simple but critical way to make your grant manager’s life easier is to inform them when a contact changes. Failure to do this can be very frustrating. As well as good etiquette, it is also a chance to update the funder and remind them of the good work you are doing.


Oliver Carrington is a researcher for NPC, and has previously worked as a grant manager for charities working with young people and education


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