Stewardship in any form is essential to the success of your fundraising goals. This is particularly important when dealing with foundations. Making sure you stand out from all the others will only help maintain the retention with the foundation.
Many times our introduction to foundation funding may come from either a connection with one of your board members or one of your VIPs that are connected to your institution. Don’t assume that if you have a board member/VIP who is affiliated with a foundation but you are not within the guidelines that you won’t ever receive a gift. Many times one of the perks for sitting on the foundation is to give a grant to a charity of your choice. I remember seeing a gift coming in from a foundation where we were not within the normal guidelines. It was determined that the gift was a result of one of our board members. This is the time to not only begin extensive research on the foundation but all the individuals connected with the foundation.
Start looking at the history of the foundation and seeing how often giving falls outside of the basic guidelines. This will provide you with insight on whether this is a normal thing that happens or rarely occurs. If you notice a pattern of giving outside the guidelines, then maintaining a long relationship with that foundation is could be a higher priority. This is also the time to interview the individual who helped secure the gift. Ask them questions about the foundation that will help cement your relationship for the future.
Once you have a good idea of what the foundation is about and their history, you need to do profiles on all the members of the foundation. Build those relationships now because at some point in time, that board member/VIP who is closely attached to your organization may leave the foundation and you want to be sure your relationship is not just built on that one individual. Work very closely with the foundation officer and staff to garner detailed information that might not be found in public resources. Your profiles on the individuals connected with the foundation should be heavily focused on biographical details. You want to find other connections/relationships that will ensure the relationship with the foundation flourishes. Definitely include these individuals on your peer screening lists.
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