Many fund raisers seem to think they will get a corporate or foundation grant simply because they wrote a proposal or made a phone call, says Richard K. Davis, chairman of U.S. Bancorp, a Minneapolis company that donates $40-million a year to charities.
But charity officials could do better if they first asked some simple questions that could lead to a more meaningful relationship with the foundation or corporation they are soliciting, he says.
Mr. Davis, who spoke at a Park City, Utah, meeting of fund-raising consultants over the past weekend, said that he would be delighted if a nonprofit organization or a fund raiser opened a meeting with him by asking two simple questions:
* What does he already know about the organization seeking a donation?
* And what he would like to see it accomplish?
But that never happens, he said.
Mr. Davis urged charities to “just come back once without asking for money” and tell the grant maker what they have accomplished with the money. Instead, he said, most grant seekers return to his company, assuming that they deserve another grant—and a larger one at that.
Mr. Davis said that also he does not understand why so few charities fail to invite grant makers to see their work firsthand. For example, he said, an organization that received a grant for a new building could invite a corporate-giving officer to see progress on the construction site, while a symphony could invite a foundation official to a closed-door rehearsal.
Mr. Davis also said most fund raisers he encounters are more focused on the amount of money they are trying to raise than their organization’s mission. As a result, he said, they are not the best people to make a pitch.