Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Grant Officer's Pet Peeve

We don’t solicit entries from guest writers beyond our sponsors but every once in awhile someone will offer something that seems too interesting to pass up. Following is an abbreviated version of a note I received from a program officer in a local foundation, used with permission. It might prompt you to inquire with your funding representatives about how they want to be kept informed of your efforts and give you an extra incentive to scrub your mailing list. Bryan O.

Dear Executive Director:
It is that time of year when you, your board, and staff are focusing on end of year appeals to your donors. Your grant officers are certainly pleased that you are working to tell the story of your organization’s work and impact, and to inspire support. This year, would you please take time to clean up your mailing list? For example, I should not be receiving your annual appeal in my role as your grants officer. There are days when we receive many copies of the same appeal, addressed to each and every staff member who has ever worked for the foundation – or so it seems.
I recently saw a Facebook post from a not-for-profit that was so happy to have a volunteer preparing their annual fund letters. This morning I got that organization’s annual letter here at the foundation. The mailing was sent with full first class postage and included a 2 page letter hand annotated with underlining, notes and exclamation points; an annual fund insert, and a return envelope. Your appeal to me represents time and money that are going straight to the recycling bin.

Your grants officers want your organization to succeed in all aspects of your organization’s work—programming, community impact, funds development. Please don’t undermine our confidence in the first two by failing to attend to the details of the third.

With every good wish for your success,

Your Grants Officer


Anonymous said...

It's tough being a grantee and trying to figure out all of the unwritten rules for each of your grantors (much less all of the written ones!) and even individual officers, and grantees often feel a lot of pressure around this. It's very possible that the organization is operating from the conservative standpoint of providing the grantors all of this additional contact simply to demonstrate how they are communicating with their stakeholders, the efforts they're making on fundraising beyond grants, etc. Few if any leaders at a grantee would expect a grants officer to make a personal donation or do anything more than file away the information. For every grantor who doesn't want this information, there likely is one who does. It would be great if grantors were more candid about what they do and don't want. And if they do get a lousy fundraising appeal, if they'd take a few minutes to give constructive feedback to the organization...the value of the advice could be as much as the next grant.

Anonymous said...

Dear Grant Officer, when I send you a copy of our donor letters it is not because I expect you to personally donate. It is because so many of your colleagues have requested that I mail these letters to them so that they can keep track of our activity. If you don't want to receive our letter, please let us know directly and we can remove you from this list. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I know this to be the way Grants Officers believe, but I have often wondered how they can be solicited for worthy causes just the way we wall do.

Anonymous said...

And there's your list clean up, "officer."

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your rant. I, too, am frustrated by appeals from organizations that do not clean their lists or recognize that I had already sent them my annual gift.

Fundraisers and database managers should take heed. The efficiencies gained by computer automation should allow some time for "manual" review.