4 ways to open the door to invite only funders
Securing grants has always been competitive. It has only become more challenging in recent years. Private foundations are increasingly becoming “Invite Only,” which means they “do not accept unsolicited applications.”
Is this to say you should cross them off your list? Quite the opposite! The more open possibilities there are, the more bids they receive. It seems logical to redirect your grant-winning technique to allow yourself to be ‘invited.’
Why Foundations Decide to Follow the “Invite Only” Approach
There are several reasons for closed-solicitations. Some Invite Only Funders may be interested in a particular solution or geographic region, while others cannot process hundreds of solicitations or all of the above. Unfortunately, this effectively slams the door on groups who may have viable solutions before they even get off the ground.
How exactly do you solicit from Invite Only Funders? Here are a few brief pointers:
1. Leverage Your Network for Introductions
If a donor depends on their knowledge or networks to find new grantees, a referral from the right person might mean the difference between success and failure. For example, your current funders or project partners are already involved in your work; perhaps they know someone who works for an invitation-only funder and would be happy to recommend you.
Do your homework, and don’t be afraid to politely request an introduction explaining why it’s strategically essential to you – you might be amazed at how willing people are to help you.
2. Use Your Funding Strategy
After the initial introduction has been made, think about sharing your financing strategy with the invite-only funder. It demonstrates that you have a strategy in place and is also an excellent way to get feedback.
When a possible fundraiser is ready to broker an introduction with an invite-only funder, it implies they admire what you’re doing and are prepared to put their reputation in your hands. Read this guide on developing a grant fundable project to learn more.
3. Engage the Invite Only Funder in Social Events that Matter to Them
Another approach is to meet the funder in question in the exact location at the same time. Good fundraising teams research and attend events where key foundation employees and board members will be present regularly. These can include conferences, events, meals with partners or like-minded agencies, seminars, or government meetings.
Don’t be shy to approach the funder! Approach the funder in the same way you would a significant donation prospect. Get to know them as a person and exchange contact information.
Don’t pitch your project or group just now! Save that for a later time when you can have a formal meeting. The goal here is to obtain contact information so that you may subsequently arrange a meeting and build a relationship gradually.
4. Get Your Online Presence Right
While some invitation-only funders support the same organisations year after year, many actively seek new grantees. So, would a funder discover you today if they tried to look you up on Google? And what would they think if they got on your website right now?
There are a few basic things you must do to be visible and desirable to potential funders:
- A minimalist and easy-to-use website that clearly demonstrates your purpose plus relevant testimonials and case studies
- A simple way for others to contact you or learn more about you
- Some work on search engine optimisation to guarantee that crucial search keywords relevant to your cause drive potential funders to your website rather than competitors.
We hope that non-profit leaders will use these tips to shift away from the idea that Invite Only Funders have a permanently locked door and instead take proactive measures to nudge it open gently.
Craigmyle Fundraising Consultants is the longest established and most consistently successful fundraising consultancy in the UK. You’ll find that fundraising consultants can be instrumental in achieving grants in various projects, from giving sound advice to funding research and help to write your bid. Schedule a consultation with us today!