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Maximizing Opportunities for Funding

Filed in Core Communications — May 23, 2024

In our blog we’ve pulled back the veil on our approach and methodologies through a largely ‘plug and play’ resources and Masterclasses so you can skillfully engage the funding partners your mission deserves.

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In our recent Fundraising Masterclass, “Building Authentic Funder Relationships & Maximizing Opportunities for Funding”, held during Catalyzing Change Week 2024, Black Fox Global team members Lisa Heinert, Melizsa Mugyenyi and Jen Skala Bodio explored ways to build authentic funder relationships through professional persistence. 

Building on this strategic fundraising approach and the parallel importance of funder outreach and messaging, our team also shared tried and true strategies to ensure your organization is ‘grant ready’ when you do secure invitations to submit proposals and letters of inquiry (LOIs). This blog post is the second in a two-part series following this Masterclass. The session recording can be accessed on Catalyst 2030’s YouTube page here, and the slide deck is available here

As a result of your professional persistence in funder outreach, you will have leveraged and/or developed warm leads and strong funder relationships. In view of this, it is pertinent to be ‘grant ready’ to avoid last-minute grant applications or rushed letter of inquiry (LOI submissions). In addition to other important factors such as organizational structure, board development, policy development, and more, one key is to ensure that your communications are clear, concise, and compelling before you actually do the grant writing. We will focus on this aspect of grant readiness. 

Here are three communications-focused questions to ask yourself before you apply to a grant:

  • Do we have clear messaging?
  • Is our language/ message aligned with the Funder’s focus areas?
  • Do we have the right materials prepared?

Your messaging forms the building blocks for all other communication materials, and consistent, clear, and compelling communications allows a funder to easily understand the heart of your work, and the alignment with their funding priorities. At Black Fox Global, our Communications Toolkit process adapts the sector’s Problem-Solution-Impact model by implementing a three-part system that focuses on your identity, your vision, and your model or approach. 

Using this process will enable you to develop authentic messaging in a way that captures who you are, what you do, and how you do your work. It is important to avoid jargon and academic language in materials, and remain accessible. Your core messages should be common across all the funders you reach out to, in a commitment to stay true to your organization’s values and identity.

In this step, it is important to do your homework very carefully on the funder. What particular phrases are they using to describe their approach? What specific details do they put out in their calls for grant applications? Can you weave this into your case for support or program description? Can you articulate your impact in a way that demonstrates what is important to your funder? In this step, it is also crucial to stay true to who you are as an organization, while highlighting commonalities between you and the funder.

Preparing, gathering and collating materials, so that you are ready for grant applications, will take the mental load off your development and program teams, save time, and result in strong submissions to funders. Commonly requested documents and materials by funders may be organizational, financial, and narrative. You will find that you have many of these materials across your organizational assets, but organizing them in one place will ensure accuracy, consistency, and most importantly, save you time and energy. 

Our team at Black Fox Global identified 25 different documents/pieces of information commonly requested for grant applications, compiled in this grant readiness checklist. This checklist complements the narrative work that our team does through our Communications Toolkit and Grant Suite services, and should similarly complement your internal messaging materials. It is not designed to be prescriptive for every organization, but rather a consistent list to consider. Based on your organization’s size, the geographic location of your work and/or funding prospects, your specific registration status, etc., you may eliminate or add items to the list. 

We encourage your team to review this list together, determine which items are most relevant to your organization, and use the checklist to compile all documents in one centralized location for easy access for upcoming funding opportunities. The document is designed to be copied to your own files; consider creating a separate checklist for each funder, or for new funding prospects to ensure you have ‘checked all of the boxes’ for your applications. 

Our team at Black Fox Global wishes you the greatest success in maximizing the funding opportunities available to you. If you are interested in exploring how Black Fox Global can help you advance your fundraising momentum, please visit our Solutions page, and Open Source materials. May you feel encouraged and equipped to secure the funding needed for your vital mission! 

The recording from the session is available on the Catalyst 2030 YouTube channel here, and linked here is the slide deck. Part 1 of this series, Building Authentic Funder Relationships is available here.

By Jennifer Skala Bodio, Communications Specialist; Lisa Heinert, COO; and Hamsini Ravi, Communications Specialist | Black Fox Global