To Call or Not to Call?
Much is said about the value of phoning funders before a grant application submission. However, there are several schools of thought on this, at least from our point of view. In the “pro” camp, we hear about the benefits of phoning, such as inquiring about goodness of fit of your proposal with the funder’s priorities.
We agree that there is utility in learning more about the funder, their priorities, their guidelines and geographic requirements, etc. For instance, some funders declare that they do not accept unsolicited proposals; yet, there is evidence that proposals inadvertently sent to these funders (we will get to why later) sometimes yields profitable outcomes. The reason for this is that a good number of “old-money” foundations rely on hardcopy mailed applications, do not update donor grant database outfits with their preference not to accept unsolicited proposals, and, honestly, have no web presence. Without a web presence today, it is hard to communicate their foundation’s wishes, which means they are bound to receive what they deem unsolicited proposals.
Slipping Through the Cracks
We have found, however, that in short, they do not know what they are missing; and they are often pleasantly surprised by the ones that slip through the cracks, making their way to them and being perfectly aligned with their giving principles and guidelines. So, what does this tell us? We conclude that phoning in advance, at least for this reason, is a mixed bag—it may deter the foundations with ardent views about unsolicited proposals from obtaining high-quality, perfectly fitting, and timely proposals that, to our pleasant surprise, are ultimately accepted and successfully awarded.
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