Plenty of helpful insights were shared at yesterday’s Funders Forum, which was produced by Volunteer Hampton Roads, moderated by Keith, and well-attended by nonprofit professionals and board members.
The panel of funders was impressive: the Hon. Richard Bray of the Beazley Foundation, Angelica Light of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation, Deborah Wyld of the Norfolk Southern Foundation, Michael Howland of the Southeastern Council of Foundations, Anne Conner of the TowneBank Foundation, and Anna Powell of the Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation.
One discussion that stood out involved red flags that funders look for in grant applications. A few seemed obvious—applications submitted outside the acceptance period or past the deadline, and organizations or projects that clearly don’t fit the grant criteria.
Funders also emphasized that application narratives be written concisely; one panelist noted that it’s disheartening to see 20-page dissertations when she has dozens of applications to review. Another point here is that if you can’t explain your funding needs clearly and concisely, how will you be able to meet effectively in person with other major donors to ask for gifts?
Other red flags? Unrealistic budget projections that seem like pie in the sky when compared with previous budgets. Boards that haven’t yet reached 100 percent giving to the project. The executive director and board members having the same last name.
And a big red flag is when a funder first hears of a project or nonprofit in the grant application. “Don’t just throw grant applications over the transom,” said a panelist. All indicated that they want nonprofits to contact them for guidance before applying for a grant. Some are even willing to meet in person.
Funder stewardship and follow-up was also discussed in-depth. Look for a post about this early next week.