If foundations were people, their wrists might look like this one -- laden down with the various causes they support.
But, just because you know what organizations your foundation prospects support doesn't mean you know WHY they support them.
We sometimes focus our post-award questions to funders on the negative results. Why didn't we get the grant? What could we have done to make our application stronger?
Next time you do get the grant, don't stop at "thank you." Although, of course, thank you is essential. Ask this extremely important question -- "What inspired you to support our project/cause/organization. . .?" Or, "What about our work is the XYZ Foundation most interested in?"
Don't assume that you know why you got the grants you received. Assumptions can be deadly.
We learned this tip from fundraiser extraordinaire Gail Perry in her webinar on major donors. It's a great addition to the grants officer's toolbox as well.
This question can open up so many avenues for exploration with the program officer or family member at the foundation. You can ask for advice about how to expand that aspect of your work or better communicate the results your funder is interested in. You can better tailor future requests.
The conversation may even lead to new ideas for ways to collaborate in achieving your mutual goals or an invitation for future applications.
If you've used this strategy, post a comment below, to let us know how it worked for you -- for better or for worse. And if we inspire you to try this out, please come back later and fill us in.