Helping Nonprofits Communicate

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Saying Thanks to a Foundation

This week I was talking with a member of a family foundation about what it’s like to decide on worth causes and organizations to fund. It’s a challenging task but rewarding, he said, to fund a like-minded project. As a member of the foundation, it was the feel-good part for him. Interestingly, that good feeling lessens a little bit if the funded organization doesn’t properly thank its grant maker. In fact, he said, an organization that gets funded by his organization and doesn’t follow up with a thank you note will get their application tossed aside on the next go-round. If your organization is funded by a family foundation, here are some helpful hints for recognizing them and saying thanks.

Get a handwritten note in the mail ASAP from someone in your organization. It could be the program manager, the executive director or the board chair. Send this out within a few days of receiving word that you’ve gotten funding.

Identify someone else who could write a note to the foundation on your organization’s behalf. Did you receive funds to give an after school community center sports equipment? Have the basketball team captain write a short thank you note and include a picture of the team. Did the funds make it possible to keep a food pantry going another six months? Find a family that has recently benefited from its services and have them write a note to the funder.

When publicizing the gift (if applicable), tell a little bit of the family foundation’s story in your materials. Show what your two organizations have in common and how working together will benefit everyone involved.

Shoot some video to show how the gift has been used, and add text at the end of the video that thanks the organization. Upload it to YouTube and be sure to send the link to the foundation. Once that’s done consider where else this video could live. Could it be part of an online portion of your next annual report? Can it live on your organization’s website? It is the perfect part of a blog post outlining the gift?

Invite members of the family foundation to your next event. They’re already invested in your cause. Giving them first-hand knowledge of the impact they’ve made may encourage more grant funding in the future.

Send periodic updates to the funders, perhaps quarterly. Then, when the gift is nearing the end of its use, think of ways to showcase all that’s been done over the time period of the grant. Get creative. How can you show them the culminating value of what they’ve made possible? Get it together and send it to them and consider letting everyone else you know about what you were able to do because of this foundation’s generosity.

In short, you appreciate them. They probably know that, but showing and telling them what their funds made possible will go a long way.

thank you photo

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