Last Friday we were advised that three of our clients were successful in receiving a grant from one particular funder. We were so overjoyed because each and every program was deserved and (not that we are biased!) each one is going to make a big difference in the lives of marginalised groups in our society.
But it made me realise that there are three important things that you must immediately do when you receive grant money.
First up – celebrate!
With the grant writers, with the program leads, the CEO and any other contributors (such as finance). Tell them the good news, thank them for their contribution and do your equivalent of a happy dance! For us, at Wendy Brooks & Partners we celebrate our wins via our team’s Whatsapp group (memes and flamenco dancer emoji abound) and then we celebrate again at our daily virtual quiz check-in or at our team meeting.
How do you celebrate a grant win with your team? We’d love to know so feel free to comment below.
Secondly, you must say thank you.
Quickly, personally and with meaning. This is where you should refer to your donor stewardship plan to obtain guidance about the thank you process. Your donor stewardship plan should spell out who is going to thank the funder and in what way. For example, the plan should set out expected timeframes in which the thanks is to be delivered, the method of communication (eg. in person, on the phone, personalised card etc) and who is going to do the thanks (CEO, chair of the board, etc). Say thank you and say it often – not just at the beginning of the funding period. Research suggests that you have to say thank you seven times before a funder will donate again. Consider how you’re going to say thank you in a variety of ways as part of your ongoing donor stewardship process.
How do you thank your funders in multiple ways during a funding period? Newsletters? Personalised updates? Small events?
Finally, start your acquittal process.
In the words of Natalie Eggleton of FRRR (in our latest Disruptive Ideas event – link here) as soon as you receive notification of a grant win, start your acquittal process. Meaning, as soon as you are told that you have been awarded the funds, you have to set up the necessary processes to acquit those funds. Each funder has a different acquittal process so make sure you read the fine print and discuss with your operations team how you’re going to meet the requirements of the fund. If you have any concerns about meeting those requirements, proactively reach out to the funder to discuss your concerns and seek out alternative solutions to ensure good donor stewardship throughout the acquittal period.
It is crucial that you don’t leave the acquittal process to the last minute. We have heard too many nightmare stories about a mad scramble at the end of a funding period to meet acquittal requirements and let us just say that it doesn’t put you in a strong position to ask for money again. In fact, get it wrong and you may have lost support for good.
In summary, celebrate the wins, thank your donors and commence your acquittal processes straight away. That way, the collective hard work of your team will be acknowledged, your donor stewardship will be strong and your acquittal process on point. All this will set you up for commitment from your fundraising team, an ongoing relationship with your funder and a happy board for knowing that your acquittal process is taken care of from start to finish in line with good governance. Insert flamenco dancer emoji (💃🏼💃🏼💃🏼)!