Last Thursday’s Funders Forum, held by Volunteer Hampton Roads and moderated by Keith, gave nonprofit professionals and board members a direct line to a panel comprising 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.
When it comes to communication and stewardship, panel members were frank. If they’ve sponsored or funded an event for your organization, let them know if your event was successful, whether it raised money, and how many people attended. When funding a capital campaign or special project, keep them up to date on its progress. If there are problems or challenges, be open about them. Never let them hear about your problems from another source or be surprised down the road, they said.
Panelists suggested that board members send handwritten notes and make phone calls not only to thank funders, but to let them know specifics about how their funding is helping or what it accomplished. Some corporate foundations are even open to having their company’s employees volunteer with your organization. One corporate funder suggested that nonprofits use their relationships to connect with someone in the corporation who can be an advocate for your organization.
Next week look for one more post from the Funders Forum, this one on what funders look for in nonprofit boards.