Taking the Fear Out of Funder Communications with Rachel Werner
In this 1-hour webinar (with 15 minutes Q&A), Rachel Werner will dig into how to overcome the fear of reaching out to funders and get yourself introduced to new funding prospects.
By the end of this Instrumentl Partner Webinar, you’ll be able to:
- Learn how prospect research is the key to taking the fear out of communicating with funders.
- Compile a one-page phone script/fact sheet for use with different funders.
- Create a template email to introduce yourself to new funding prospects.
- Understand how Instrumentl saves you time and money in identifying the right opportunities for your programs.
By using that link, you'll save $50 off your first month should you decide to upgrade when your trial expires.
Rachel Werner is the owner and CEO of RBW Strategy, LLC. She has over 18 years of grants experience, and she and her team have collectively helped nonprofits garner over $160 million in grant awards and managed over $2 billion in grant funding. She is an active member of the Grant Professionals Association, Association of Grant Professionals, and is a Certified Grant Professional and Project Management Professional.
Instrumentl Partner Webinars are collaborations between Instrumentl and its community partners to provide free educational workshops for grant professionals. Our goal is to tackle a problem grant professionals often have to solve, while also sharing different ways Instrumentl’s platform can help grant writers win more grants. Click here to save a seat in our next workshop.
Click the video link below to start watching the replay of this free grant workshop, or check out the transcriptions below the video.
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Taking the Fear Out of Funder Communications - Grant Training Transcription
Will: With that, I'm going to go ahead and get us kicked off. Hello everyone. And welcome to Taking the Fear Out of Funder Communications with Rachel. This workshop is being recorded and slides will be shared afterwards. So, keep your eyes peeled for any follow-up emails regarding these slides and additional resources that Rachel is going to be sharing with you today. In case this is your first time here, this free grant workshop is brought to you by Instrumentl. It's a partner workshop in which we collaborate with community members to teach grant writing to grant professionals for free. Our goal is to tackle some sort of problem that grant professionals often have to face and then share ways that our platform can also help you in streamlining your workflows and helping you apply for more grants. Instrumentl is the institutional fundraising platform. If you're looking to bring grant prospecting, tracking, and management into a single tool, we can help you do that. And you can set up your own account and get personalized grant recommendations using the link on the screen, as well as in the zoom chat. It will be shared a few times during the demo portions today.
Now with that housekeeping out of the way, I'm very excited to introduce Rachel. Rachel is a returning presenter and she's the owner and CEO of RBW Strategy, LLC. She has over 18 years of grants experience and she and her team have collectively helped nonprofits garner over $160 million in grant awards and managed over $2 billion in grant funding. She's an active member of the Grant Professionals Association, Association of Grant Professionals, and is a certified grant professional and project management professional. If it's your first time here, as well as for attorneys, just as a reminder, whenever you have a question, we ask that you input that into the zoom chat with three hashtags. When that question is logged, I will reply back in the zoom chat. But we use that in order to make it easy to flag questions out since there's a ton of different people talking at once. But other than that, Rachel, feel free to take it away.
Rachel: Sorry, I didn't realize I was still muted. So thanks everybody. I hope you're having a great day so far and appreciate you taking the time to talk about something that is near and dear to my heart, which is funder communications and the integral part that that plays in the research and grant strategy process. So just a way to learn a little bit more about you, if you can, share in the zoom chat, your name, your organization, and how do you prefer to connect with funders? Do you like to chat with them on the phone? Well, even though in-person is not as much of an option at this point, perhaps pre COVID and after things start to normalize a bit more, are you looking forward to those in-person meetings? What about email or social media shout outs? Because everybody kind of has a preferred style. So just kind of curious to see what works for you and what you feel comfortable with in terms of your communication style.
So, this is what we're really going to be talking about today. We’re going to talk about the fundamentals of effective prospect research, and then Will's going to lead us in a demo to kind of talk about some really interesting ways that we can take the funder information through the use of Instrumentl into helping us sort of develop some collateral related to cultivation strategy. So we're going to focus on a prospect profile document that I will share with you, and we're also going to be using an email template. And so I think that you'll see through these exercises a couple of different ways that we can use that research in a tangible way. And then of course leaving time for Q and A at the end.
So let's talk about effective prospect research. So why do we want to start with research? Why research is, to me, the most critical component of your grant strategy is because it serves as the building blocks. If you don't find the right prospects, then all of your grant seeking efforts are going to be for not. Really trying to determine those most accurate and most reflective of your organization's values, your organization's mission, and then they align with those priorities. It really is critical and it allows you to make educated decisions and work smarter and not harder. So that's really why prospect research is critical and why I think spending the time to do it is much more important than submitting a grant application when you might not have the right information to know if that was the right funder or not. And so you don't want to end up with a bunch of declinations for those applications that you've worked so hard on. So that's why starting off with that research is critical.
So what are really some critical things that we can find out about funders? And we won't really be doing this too much in the demo today, but if you were to use Instrumentl as a demo to gather that information, these are some things that I think are really helpful and especially related to funder cultivation. Obviously getting the general information and the application deadlines, but also digging a little bit deeper and thinking about what those funders are thinking about in terms of their priorities and what they're really focused on. And how they're trying to help the communities and how they're really trying to ensure that their priorities are being met through the different recipients to which they award funding. And also looking at those 990 forms and really trying to get a sense of how you can dig a little bit deeper into learning a little bit more about those funders, about those trustees and who the particular awardees are. And also, and I think this is part of the cultivation process, to determine if there's a connection. Because sometimes when there's a lot of information about who to contact, perhaps you can leverage that partnership with someone within your organization. And of course, you know, gathering information about the eligibility requirements and geographic area of focus are all kind of building out that profile for that prospect or that existing funder that you want to focus on.
So in terms of funder communication, now this is where we're going to segue from the prospect research into the actual cultivation strategy. What information is critical? We're going to talk about these a little bit more in depth, but some of it is internal and thinking about where your organization is and what information you need to gather. And also what you're looking to gather about the funder. So those kinds of things are really helpful. And we're going to start off with the case statement. I can't stress this enough, but your case statement is your why. Why are you seeking funding? Why do you exist? Why do you make an impact in your community that really tells the story? If you can't really build out that case, how are you going to compel others to give, how are you going to educate a funder about what you do? So that is really important.
And as well as understanding the funder priorities, because if you don't really understand what a funder gives and the means in which they give, then it's going to be a real challenge for you to prioritize and to think about whether this is the right fit for you. And whether they should align with your organization because it's really important. I can't tell you how many times someone has said to me, oh, you should apply to this foundation only to find that they're only really focused on education and you're an arts organization, so really not a fit. And so making sure that there's a match with your priorities or it's really not going to be successful. And what about those connections? You mentioned this before, when talking about the information you want to gather, it's not just looking at the people who are on the board of the foundation or the people who work within the foundation who are program officers. But also thinking about if it's a corporate foundation, is there somebody within that corporate entity that can connect you with that corporate foundation? So giving that information to somebody on your team is incredibly helpful because it can really help bridge. And especially for those where it's invitation only. And even though I know with Instrumentl, it's only open opportunities, if there's perhaps that family foundation that you're trying to get to, or even trying to get to some of those corporate foundations that can be hard to connect with, this is a great way to do that.
And I think it also is important to understand that timeline and that process for how a funder gives, because then that's going to give you enough time to advance your priorities and be able to map out a timeline for when you're going to reach out to that funder and thinking about how you're going to track that information. And there is a way to do that in Instrumentl. You also can make a homegrown tool if that's better for you, but just some things to think about as you're trying to figure out how to best connect with different funders. And of course, you know, peer organizations, I think that they can be a great resource. Let's say that you find out that one of your partners has received a huge grant from a funder that you have wanted to connect with for years. There's someone you can talk to to learn about how they went about that. Is there a way that you can perhaps connect with them about taking a look at different ways that you can perhaps collaborate on an application in the future? Those are some things that you can think about in terms of stewardship. Because a lot of times I know that you know for nonprofits, it's difficult sometimes to leverage that information from other peer organizations, but to the extent that you have a good dynamic, it can be really helpful for you.
So, and this kind of goes back to tracking and managing, how are you going to manage this information? How are you going to track it? So if you don't have a software tool already, or if you're not using Instrumentl, what kind of system would be helpful for you? And even using Google Sheets or Excel is a great way to start because at least you can hopefully try to share access to information, whether using teams or Google Sheets. Or perhaps you're going to use a project management system like Asana that can track that detail. There are some other things to consider. And so with that we're gonna kind of show this in action. So Will, I'm going to hand it off to you to show how we can use Instrumentl.
Will: Sure. Sounds good. Thanks, Rachel. I just put it in the zoom chat as well in case you have never explored us before, but that's Rachel's link. It'll get you a 14 day trial of Instrumentl. And what I wanted to show is a few of the things that Rachel is speaking to, and then we'll do some more integration with the templates and things that she has prepared for today as well. So when you create, at a high level, Instrumentl helps you bring grant prospecting, tracking, and management to one place. And when you are setting up your account on Instrumentl, you're going to have this sort of view in which you're going to be able to create your project and set it up based off of the name. So this could be a particular program or initiative that you're working on. And what the goal is here is for you to identify exactly what you're looking for in your funding. So once you set up this project, you would select things like the fields of work, the types of grants you're looking for, as well as the size of grants.
And then when you've done that, you will end up with something that we call the matches tab. And these matches are going to, like Rachel said, show you only active grant opportunities that you can apply for. That said, though, something that is coming down the pipeline in the next month or so is we will be introducing a new feature to Instrumentl for our Standard Plan in which we'll also match you to a potential invite only funders or funders that don't have websites as well. And so that is something to look out for if you are a current user of ours. But essentially, in the matches section, what you will see is information about the funder as well as 990 reports when they're available to be digitized so that you can pull out insights about different funders and learn about them at a high level view. So what's different about this than most other grant prospecting tools is that we will only show you right now these active grant opportunities. These are opportunities that you can actually start applying for.
And you'll see these nice digitized 990 reports that you can essentially use to dig into some of the information that Rachel shared in that earlier slide. So key people, key financial statistics with our new plan, that's coming out as well. You will be able to get the breakdown as to the giving trends over time on both the average and medians, as well as the average amounts for the grant awards over the years, as well as things like where past grantees are coming from, and the most gived areas in terms of a funder. So what you'll see here is I have this foundation, which we'll dig more deeply into later on in today's presentation, but essentially what you can see here is trends like what the average grant ranges were, where past grantees came from, as well as whether or not they are new grantees or returning grantees. And then you'll see breakdowns as to where they're funding the most. This answers the question that Rachel was saying earlier of, well, what if you're an arts organization, but the funder is mostly funding, health clinics or something like that.
It's not probably a very good fit for what that funder is looking for. And then from the tracking and management side of things, what you'll be able to do in Instrumentl is track everything in the same place. And so a lot of times some people will do Asana, coupled with Google Calendar coupled with a Google Doc or something like that. Whereas people that bring their work into Instrumentl essentially get dedicated trackers for every single project they're working on. So you can see in just this account, I have a ton of different projects related to all different sorts of programs and initiatives for my nonprofits. But essentially what that allows me to do is keep an active search for those grant opportunities and also allows me to track everything in a folder together so that when I save a particular opportunity, what I can get in the right hand side here are all the tasks and common things that you might need to do to get this grant to submission.
And so I can track things in terms of the different statuses that it might be in my overall pipeline, as well as just add different tasks and choose who I want to send this to in terms of the people on my team on my account. And I can also upload my final proposals in the same place as well. And so this kind of keeps everything in one place. You can see here for this particular corporate giving program that I actually have it already saved for three years, which makes it really easy if you are just working on a returning grant and you just need to have something in the same place in terms of all the task management and deadlines that might be coming up. So once a week Instrumentl will send you two things. The first one is all of the matches that you have coming up in terms of your calendar. And then the other thing is you will get all the tasks that are coming up as well as the upcoming grant deadlines. So you might be wondering what about the local opportunities that might not be on Instrumentl?
You can always add your own opportunity by clicking this, add new button and then clicking the add one or upload many option in terms of that side of things. And so this can be really helpful because if you are a grant writer or you're part of a grant team that constantly has different team meetings or board meetings where you need to pull something together for your board to review, you can always share report really quickly. And then you can just generate a PDF report of what you're working on in just a few seconds. So you can see here how I created this report, and now I've got that PDF report ready to go for whoever my supervisor is or whatever meeting it might be for some more synchronous collaboration and things like that. And so those are some of the high-level features. Speaking to some of the quick comments that just came up in the chat as well, there is a calendar view in the works right now and so that will be coming in the future. There isn't a direct interaction with Razor's Edge or integrations at this time, but that is something on our radar.
And so that's something in which to definitely keep your eyes peeled in the future. For that, what most people will do today is they will export that CSV report and then import that into their own CRM tracker. So you can use Rachel's link in the chat, it's instrumentl.com/rbw. And the other thing I wanted to share with you guys is if you're using a current grant tool and you need to go to your direct supervisor or your board for approval of exploring Instrumentl as an alternative, we have these new pages in the very bottom footer of our website where you can compare us with a ton of other common tools that people use to just understand the differences of our platforms to specifically bring that to whoever it might be for the approval process in that side of things. And our team is also always happy to answer questions that you may have as well. Then the last question I'll answer before handing it back to you, Rachel, is in the last training, somebody mentioned if the researching status only changes if information changes or compared to other statuses, that is correct.
And so something I want to highlight in these trackers is when you are putting something in your researching section from your matches tab in Instrumentl, what's going to happen is we are going to auto track that deadline as well as the information around that funder. And if there is a change, we will change that for you, even if you don't change it from your researching section. So if October 16th comes around and we haven't moved this Alan Jones Foundation Grant, we will start showing you the 2022 date instead of the 2021 day. And so the theory behind this from a high level is that the things you leave in your researching section are always grants that you can start working on as your next to bat, so to speak. And so that's what you'll see here in the researching section here. So that's pretty much Instrumentl at a high level. Again, I'll leave that link in the description, but we'll be using it a little bit more later on anyway in the presentation. So we'll go into some of that and then I'll speak to the other questions that people may have later on in the presentation.
Rachel: All right. Thanks Will. So now I'm just going to get back to the presentation. So we kind of went through these various slides. And one of the questions that we had is what do you find to be the most relevant information to collect when you research prospective grant funders? Because I think that everybody uses a prospect research tool in different ways. I'm curious for your organization, what information is the most helpful for you? Is it more of the analysis of the award amounts? Is it the geographic area? Is it a priority? And it could probably be a few things because you want to collect as much intelligence as possible to make the right decision, but just curious and I'll read out geographic restrictions, previous grant award amounts, looking at their past awards. So I'm seeing some trends, oh, contact information. That's also really important because sometimes you can be able to access somebody and try to correspond with them before an application is completed. So great. Thank you for sharing.
Okay. So now we're going to actually talk about building out a prospect profile and what exactly that means. And I'm going to actually show you a sample one and also one that we're going to build out using the funder information that Will was sharing before. So why is a prospect profile important? I think that this kind of one pager serves multiple purposes. One could be that perhaps you're connecting with a funder and you want to have a lot of critical information in a snapshot, and you don't want to have to toggle between screens and you want to have some information available so that when you're having that conversation, you're able to discuss things in a more strategic and thoughtful way by just having things at your fingertips. And also, I think it's useful to share with leadership or others who might be doing the cultivation on the organization's behalf, because then they have access to the critical information.
So you don't need to have a long conversation, and you can share that with them and then provide any feedback or updates as needed. But I think that it's helpful to kind of have them understand what information they should be talking about, and what they should know about the funder. And it also just kind of eliminates some of the inefficiencies that can happen in the back and forth dialogue. And the other thing to consider too, is that for those perhaps where you're trying to share information with someone on your team or leadership about whether to go after an opportunity, it might be helpful to just lay out some information to share. You know what, this might not be the best fit based on what we've identified. And perhaps that could be a critical discussion as well, because then you can avoid any unnecessary work towards a potential prospect that is not a fit for you.
So here's the information, the top five or six things that should be in the prospect profile or AKA, funder fact sheet: contact information for the funder, the funder's priorities and their giving areas, relevant deadlines and the application process, what the specific fit is with your organization, questions you probably want to think about asking the prospects, and any talking points. And again, that's actually extremely helpful for when you are getting to the point of actually trying to connect with the funder. So I'm going to actually show this in action by going through an actual prospect profile and then we can go through that together. Sorry, just making sure that I share the right form. Okay, here we go. So here's the prospect profile and I'm going to increase the size so that you can see it a little bit more. But the first thing is, this is one that we've done before for another organization. It's been de-identified just to ensure that we're not going to be sharing any confidential information, but this is for the Doctor Scholl Foundation.
So Dr. Scholl Foundation is a national foundation, and I just wanted to show how we've put this together for a client. So the first thing is just having that contact information I think is really important—Including the website, as you can see, there is no email address. So if you did have an email address, that would be really important to share and also the names of any program officer. That would be some other important information that would be good to include here because then you know exactly who you need to speak with at the foundation. And then in terms of the funder priorities, you can see, they have focused on any environment and also their giving areas are a little bit fluid. And this is also where you can dig into the 990s and also what Will brought up before, the breakdown of the different funding areas. You can even include the top five funder priorities based on the previous recent years of giving. That could be something that you put here as well. Also any relevant deadlines are there, do they have multiple deadlines a year, or is it a rolling deadline. So those are the kinds of things that you want to include in this document. And also just the specific mission priority fit.
Now you can see that you know, even though an organization might say we support environmental programs, that we support health and human services. You might be able to dig a little bit deeper to see what exactly they fund. Do they fund capital requests? Do they fund general operating? Are they focused on specific programs or initiatives? That's something that would be extremely helpful to kind of tease out. And if there isn't a lot of information that you can distill from looking at Instrumentl or looking at the website, that's where you want to pose those specific questions. So you can see here that the question was concerning us and international. And so thinking about well, do they fund organizations in the US that support international or what does that breakdown look like? And so if there's other specific questions, like let's say that they have environmental priorities, we see that you have focus on environmental conservation and green technologies, is there one that you prioritize more than others?
So those are just some things that you might want to think about in terms of the questions that would really help you decide one, whether you should go after this potential prospect or two, how you would want to shape your proposal in order to meet those expectations that they've outlined. And so these are just some additional talking points. So you know, looking at their past grantees, that would be something relevant because you could say, oh, I see that you have focused on these other peer organizations. So it seems like you're in line with the priorities that we have as an organization. And also just understanding a little bit more about perhaps how they organize their grant making and also just seeing if there is a potential connection. And so that might be something else that you want to include. So other things here like impact statistics, top outcomes, and so forth are things that you can actually include. Instead of just saying those impact stats and those top outcomes, you could actually include the specific statistics and outcomes in this document, if that's helpful.
And also just talking a little bit more about sustainability and thinking about as an organization wanting to see that you have a lot of different revenue sources. So how are you diversifying that? And also thinking about the success of that relationship. And so we're going to actually do a demonstration and we're going to focus on the Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation. And one of the things that I think is really helpful with Instrumentl is that a lot of the information is kind of laid out for you. So you don't have to do a lot of hunting and pecking and really trying to gather where the relevant information is. So the first thing is that we really want to get that contact information and make sure that you have the names of anybody who you might be able to reach out to and that sort of thing. So, I'm looking right now, because I have printed out the Dreyfus Foundation information. So I wouldn't have to toggle between screens and can see that they have an address.
They do have a website so that you can include that. And also they have the names of their board members. So I don't know if there might be someone you can specifically reach out to, but that could be something that you look at a little bit more and you might need to look at their 990 form to see who's listed as a staff member. And in terms of their funding priorities and programs, you can go back to that chart that has the breakdown and sometimes it's listed out, but sometimes it's helpful to just look at that chart. And from what I see, their focus is really arts culture and humanities, human services, animal related, education and healthcare. Those are their top five. Now, if we're going to pretend that this is an environmental organization and environmentalism is their number six, you can see that they're really not at the top. So this one I would put as a mid tier prospect because they don't necessarily prioritize that. But that could be something that you might want to bring up because then you can look at the different environmental grants that they've awarded and see if you would be in line with some of those programs.
And another thing is that their average grant award is 7,500. If you're looking for awards that are higher than that, think about that as part of your strategy. And also thinking about deadlines, because I think it's important to make sure that this is in line with your fundraising targets and your fundraising focus. And think about how you would go about putting this as part of your grants calendar, because I know that from my own experiences, this foundation awards twice a year. And so making sure that you include that and also that the specific mission priority fits with your organization. So if it's environmental, look at those specific environmental organizations to determine if you are going to be aligned with those types of funders. And also any relevant questions, because again, if you're environmental and they don't focus as much on that, those are the things that would be top of mind. And I would also ask about the environmental projects that they've awarded funds to, and then think about some other relevant talking points. What information can I glean from this funder that would be helpful? I'm just curious, Will, if there are any questions?
Will: I think what would be helpful is I'm going to share my screen with the profile so I can kind of show the accompanying parts that you just went over. That way for those that might not have their Instrumentl account logged in or pulled up easily, they can reference this. And so if you want to go over at the high level, each of the key things, we can kind of go through them together with the folks. So I think the first one was contact information. So the first thing you can do is you can just access this contact information section, and you're going to see the contact information, as well as the key people laid out for you here. This is where you would start to fill in your document if you're using Rachel's template in terms of the phone number, as well as the website and things like that. Can you remind me what the second one was Rachel?
Rachel: Sure. I'm sorry. I have to get back to my slide, the second one is funder priorities and programs.
Will: Right. So for that, that's going to be something that our new Standard Plan really helps nicely with, which is given by NTE code. And so what you can see here is that this is what Rachel is talking about. If you're working on an environmental project, you can see that within this funder, these are their six priorities relative to other common areas of funding that they have raised. So that's something to consider when you're evaluating where to prioritize this grant proposal, versus for example you know, another wanting to pipeline and something like that. And then I think you also brought up grant amounts and things like that. So we can definitely dig into some of those as well. So I think you mentioned the 7.5 K medium. And so what Instrumentl will do as well as we'll run through whenever possible what the trends have been in terms of past grantees and what the median amount has been. This can help you when you're assessing and answering that question of what should I put in for my proposal in terms of what I should request for, or what's even the upper bound or lower bound of my request. And you'll also see that with respect to this particular situation, you won't see as much, but I'll show you another profile.
This is a Clif Bar Family Foundation. And what you'll start to see is trends like the average and medium grant over the year. So you can see this as kind of trending down since 2013 or so. And then you'll also be able to see things like the differences between new grantees and returning grantees. So this can be helpful in answering some of those common questions that you might have of is this funder actually receptive to new people submitting proposals, or is it something where my time might be better spent somewhere else? And so this can be helpful in just trying to identify what are some of those differences between the two types of recipients over time and answering those questions that Rachel has outlined in her template as well. So these are often the starting points, but obviously one of the best ways you can actually learn even more is using either of these two contact references in terms of getting a phone number or to the website. And in terms of some of the points, later on this template will be shared in our follow-up too, today. So be sure to keep your eyes peeled for that as well.
Rachel: Great. And that's also extremely helpful because Will, you can also actually look at the funder giving by area.
Will: Yes. Yes. Oh, you can always look at it by state as well. That's correct. So you can always dig into a particular state and essentially from there, you'd be able to dig into, for example, Arizona, and it would help pull all the ones in Arizona and you can kind of dig into the respective purposes behind those things in the past.
Rachel: And I find that to be extremely helpful because let's say that sometimes we get some kind of hits. I'm based in Maryland. So if it's a Maryland organization that we're supporting and the funders are located in Arizona, perhaps because they moved to Arizona. So you can see that they've been giving to the same recipients time and time again. So even though they say that they give to Maryland, when you do a little bit more digging, you're just not quite sure if it's going to be the right fit if breaking in. And that's why looking at the new versus renewal is going to be really important for you. So I appreciate that. And I think that this is really helpful for you to understand. And do we want to pause for a second and see if there's any questions in the chat that we can answer?
Will: Sure. One of the ones I just answered was in regards to Kathy saying it's not available for all funders. That's correct. We are parsing based off of what's available in the 990 reports. So in the case where the funder has not standardized their report yet, that's something in which we either need to manually go through that, or it's something in which we have to wait until the funder updates to a digitized version of the 990. So what's happening in the next year is the IRS is requiring nonprofits to digitally file, which has been a big roadblock from a data cleaning standpoint because not every single nonprofit has been filing digitally in the last few years. So that alone should lead to improvements in terms of the ability for us to parse through all of these pages and whatnot. In terms of keeping this template within Instrumentl by funder, something I offered as a suggestion since somebody had a similar question is you can actually use your notes section in Instrumentl for each of these opportunities.
So when you're working in here, I've used this and we've seen pretty extensive uses of this section since it’s a free form text area. What you could do is you could build something like key information and then put that information in and then put deadlines and so on. And this would be rendered in your report when you share that report as well. So it would be part of that report when you download it for a PDF version of that report. For local, state and federal grant opportunities, that's correct. So when you are setting up your matches in Instrumentl, you're going to see this dropdown where you can see the different funding uses and funder types. So that will often include the federal, local, and corporate opportunities and things like that. And then the other question is, does not have a self-reporting system for foundations similar to other platforms, all information is pulled from the 990s. That's correct. We pool all of our information from the 990s or from the foundation's website.
So that's something in which that's our primary data source for the information that you'll see on Instrumentl. So when you use Rachel's link, what's going to happen is you're going to be led to this page. And then from here, you can just create your account if you haven't already and you'll be able to access your own matches and personalized results. Typically what I've seen from running hundreds of projects is we're always able to find 50 Standard grant opportunities that you might not be aware of. And so it's even helpful if you've used other tools before. Because I've heard a lot of feedback where people will say, oh, I've found things that I've seen before, but I also saw that 50% of the matches were completely new as well. So it can be helpful to run a search just to see for yourself what is the best fit for you.
Rachel: Great. Okay. Well thank you Will. I think that we're going to definitely leave some more time at the end for Q and A. There will probably be 10 minutes at the end for that. So I think it might be easier for me to just go through the email template. I'm going to go a little bit into why this could be a real time-saving tool and why we have used this actually repeatedly. But I think that the thing to really consider about the email template is that it's about connecting with funders in advance of an application being submitted. Because sometimes you can gather information, and sometimes it can spark a conversation, a dialogue where there wasn't a relationship previously, and in some ways you consider this a pre-LOI. You can consider this your first attempt to connect with them before you actually submit an application. And really just having some kind of standard template that you can customize based on the funders. And you can highlight specific areas that you might want to change.
That's something that is really up to you, but these are just some things to consider. Now this is a sample that we had, and I think it's really good, especially if you're not the one who's going to be emailing to include the contact information above that is highlighted. Just make sure that you are able to share the information up front, so that there's no confusion about who it needs to be sent to, what the subject line is, all of that. And then you could also highlight some things like this to see such as dear Mrs. Smith. Let's say that you were going to send this over to somebody, just making sure that that's highlighted, because you could say everything highlighted can be adjusted in other templates. And I think that you can also make it as lengthy or short as you feel is critical. But it's really just about highlighting some certain things you want to lay the groundwork for of who you are. And also just say why you believe that there's a connection between you and the funder.
And then you can kind of go into a little bit about who you are, what you do and just about the team that you have and perhaps in priority areas. And then talking a little bit more about what your future plans are. So you can see there are some strategic goals in here, how you collaborate with others in this space and then you always want to, at the end, leave a call to action. And just having that information is really, really important because then it allows them to have a chance to respond to you. And one thing that I think is something that you want to consider is that you can include your telephone number, and of course including an email address. And I would add a note and say, I will contact you on the phone later this week. You could include that if you wanted to be more direct. If they don't necessarily have a phone number listed, that might not be the best approach. But just something that shows you will follow up in a week or two with regard to this information.
But I think that the email is really a great way to get your name out there before any type of application is submitted. And I'm going to go back to the presentation because I'm going to, sorry, let me just stop this. Okay. I'm just going to change the share screen so that I'm looking at the right thing and talking about what information will be helpful for you to have on hand when you're putting together the email template. And I think that the organization case statement that I mentioned before is really helpful because that will help you draft that paragraph about who you are, why you're in existence, and what your priorities are. Of course, I mentioned the name and contact info of the funder, because that will allow it to be so much easier when you need to cut and paste into an email format. I think doing this in Word, or you can do it Google, whatever you think is easier for you. Even if you use Teams, but just something that you can easily lift and share and adapt as needed.
Also, who is your organization's point of contact and just be sure that there's some confirmation on that and that you have the correct information for that individual, especially now that we're all working in hybrid situations. So just make sure that you have their cell phone, if they don't have an office phone that's as easily accessible. And I think the other thing that might be helpful for just sort of learning more about that funder, is you could take that prospect profile that we discussed in the last section and also the Instrumentl data on that funder to really help build that. So you really understand who the funder is and what types of projects or initiatives they funded and what their key focus areas are because that'll really help bring some things to light and kind of sharpen what you're trying to do and focus on the right things. So I think that those are just some things that can be helpful. And I can't tell you how many times we've used this kind of email template because we have kind of taken the research and put it into this kind of email template and then the prospect profile.
And it's just these tangible items that you can actually use to help immediately cultivate and kind of help branch out some of the work that you're doing in this space. And I know somebody asked us in the chat room, it might be a couple of people that asked if this information will be available and the templates will be shared after the presentation, correct? Yup. Okay, great. Okay. So we're just going to kind of wrap it up and talk about the takeaway. So, one of the things that we discussed was the kind of information that's relevant and critical during prospect research. And Will did the demonstration on the different funder profiles that I think have really expanded the ways in which you can use the research to your advantage and all different kinds of grant seeking activities and either go or no go, and really make educated decisions about the kind of funders that you want to seek partnerships with. And also thinking about what information do I need to have on hand in order to be successful?
Things like your case statement, things like your strategic plan, things like having access to the correct contact information for the call to action with a particular funder. And also things like the collateral that should be developed. So the two items that we discussed, the prospect profile and also the email template, and showing how you can take the information from Instrumentl and directly use them in these types of tools. And I have the follow-up at the end, but this is how you can connect with me as Will shared there's the link to Instrumentl. If you want to do a demonstration and kind of play around with it yourself, you can also sign up to do a 15 minute coaching session with me if you have some particular questions. And also you can feel free to email me on anything that comes up, because I know that there's some particular questions that might be more specific to your organization, more top of mind. And just a couple of other things before we leave it for questions at the end is that, here's the link to the demonstration. And also I know that Will's going to share the link to the feedback form, but we are going to be raffling off the 30 minute grants and fundraising coaching strategy with either me or one of my team members. So you can click on that link and then you'll be able to be put in the raffle for that.
Will: Yeah. So you can submit into that raffle, it's in the zoom chat right now as well, if you don't have time for it later. Essentially any of the actions on the screen and we have some questions we're going to dig into. So if you have any questions, feel free to put them into the chat. But the first question for today is from Julia. And she was wondering if the email that you were showing has to come from the ED, or if it can come from another person?
Rachel: It can come from another person. Absolutely.
Will: And then Ann asked, do you write the letter in the body of an email, or do you send the attachment of the letter?
Rachel: I would put it in the body of an email.
Will: Okay. Reagan asked how to politely reach out if the funder does not publicize their contact information, but you find it on their 990 report?
Rachel: If they have it in their 990 report, my philosophy is it's fair game. You know, I think you can just say, oh, you know, I located your phone number and your 990 form. And I just was wondering if I can ask a few questions or, you know, connect with somebody at the foundation to chat further and see how amenable they are. Because I think that some are more open to having that dialogue than others. Or you could say, or I can follow up with an email. You can tell what's appropriate because some people have different ways that they want to communicate.
Will: Something I would also share as a tip when it comes to the templating of the Word doc is if you go in, you can actually build those sorts of templates in most email clients as well. And so you can put in form fields and from there, it will set it up so that it'll flag for you when you should swap out different things. So that you don't mistakenly send a generic email without changing a particular field or something in your template. So be sure to check those out with whatever email tool you're using, it's very common these days on that side of things. There was an earlier question, by the way, regarding Instrumentl and the researching section. Something I wanted to clarify is we are tracking all the deadline changes across opportunities in your matches. What I was saying was if you put something in your researching section, that essentially means that you haven't technically moved it to a stage like planned or later, and therefore we will use the funders default deadline for the auto rolling feature. However, we are still tracking other components of that. So if it's in your planned or it's in your view all tab, those deadlines are still being tracked in your weekly updates. So that's just a distinction that I wanted to clarify too. Kelly asked would you recommend funder outreach before the grant seeking organization develops ideas for projects to be funded?
Rachel: Before the grant seeking organization? I think you really want to come up with a sort of a plan because if you don't know what you're asking for, it's not going to yield a beneficial response. So, I think you want to at least come up with either some kind of initiatives that seem like you'd like to be funded, doesn't need to be fully fleshed out at that point, but you still want to have some kind of [inaudible] to discuss with a potential funder.
Will: Sure. Farrell asks is Instrumentl tracking ARP opportunities that are coming up from the federal side? We are, in fact. We also had a workshop with Julie Esal in terms of some of the ways that you can take advantage and identify ARP opportunities. So you can check out that workshop in our library, it's on YouTube as well as on our blog. If you need a refresher there, or you just want to deeper dive into that topic, that was about an hour long training, a spot that we recently ran. Greg asked, what's the best practice you've seen for funder outreach or what's the most common mistake that you've often found people make?
Rachel: Mistake is not connecting with a funder beforehand. And I think that best practice, trying to leverage the ambassador's organization as much as possible. So, trying to engage board members or leadership in the cultivation role, as insignificant funders. You know, I think that this is where it's important to kind of tier which ones they should be connecting with as opposed to the development director, development staff. So I think that it's really important to kind of triage those. And so that's what I would see as a best practice also to maximize efficiency. Everybody's busy. And so if you're trying to cultivate a relationship with a funder and the award amount might be 5,000, that might not be the best place for insertion of the executive director, but if it's 50,000, perhaps it would be, or perhaps it's a significant collaboration.
Will: Cynthia asks a question about how she previously reached out to a grantor and was told that we weren't in their geographical area. The funding summary on Instrumentl said that they serve anywhere in the world and the grant is a really good match for their organization. Would you approach them again? I'll speak first to this and I can say that what I would recommend you do is actually check out our training with Meredith Noble in terms of how to go from a hundred Standard opportunities to the best fits for you. Within that there are seven questions that you might find helpful in reestablishing or reconnecting with that funder and just assessing whether it's worth your bandwidth on that side of things. So that would be my first advice, but Rachel, feel free to add anything on top of that too.
Rachel: I mean, I would also take a look at how Instrumentl has it broken out by geographic regions. So I suggest looking at your geographic area specifically to see who they fund.
Will: Awesome. Let's see, there is a question in terms of how can African NGO successfully apply for US grants? African based NGOs apply for US grants is how I'm reading this question,
Rachel: Right. I guess I'm trying to figure out, are you looking for funding through, I guess you're trying to seek funding through US-based funders for an organization that's international?
Will: Yeah, that's how I read the question.
Rachel: Okay. Okay. So, I mean, I think that you would have to look at the funder profiles and really understand them. This is kind of similar to something that happened with the organization that I shared with the prospect profile, because that's something that even though they're a US-based organization, they support work that's done internationally. So I think that you would really have to have that conversation or to really see who they're funding. Are they funding organizations outside the United States, are they funding organizations in the U S that support organizations internationally? And those are two different things. So I think that really doing a little bit more digging into international because international is a unique area. And so understanding the funding vehicles is really critical for you and determining who the right fits are.
Will: Awesome. I think we've come through all the questions, just going double check real quickly. There was a question earlier for folks that are already on Instrumentl in terms of whether or not they're on the right plan for things like that and whatnot. My answer to that is we're actually going to be launching our Standard Plan in a few weeks. Every single customer of ours will get a free trial of the Standard Plan as well. So just keep your eyes peeled on that in terms of how to activate your trial, but we also do have an early bird discount for existing customers. And you can email us at helloatinstrumentl.com. if you want to learn more about how to lock in an early bird price there. If you enjoyed this grant workshop, you'll love our next one. It is on October 13th, covering Five Time-Saving Tips to Boost your Grant's Productivity with Tiffany Nobles. You can register on our events calendar. It will also be sent in the follow-up. And then look out for your email later today for slides, the templates that Rachel shared today, as well as the recording for today's workshop. Other than that, thanks so much for attending guys. And we'll see you guys in a few weeks.
Rachel: Thanks everybody. Have a great day.