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Pioneering New Ways To Thank Foundations

So, the check actually WAS in the mail. That long-awaited email slid into your inbox.  Or maybe that furiously blinking red button for voicemail actually had great news for a change.  Congratulations, you got the grant for your organization or client!

Bring on the chocolate, the dance party, or however else you celebrate success for you and your team, but don't forget to say thank you. Prompt thank you letters are the least we grant professionals can do to acknowledge the corporate or private foundation awarded funding.  But being authentic working partners with funders calls for more than "the least we can do."
First things first—make sure that grant agreement and other required documentation is completed and returned to the foundation staff ASAP.  If the agreement or award letter does not stipulate how the private or corporate foundation would like to be recognized, do yourself a favor and call them for clarification. In fact, go ahead and call them anyway and say “thank you.” If you or someone on your team can reach a Trustee or Executive Director for a quick personal thank you that would be ideal.  If not, just thank the person who answers the phone. For those introverted folks, a little bird once told me that a strategically timed voicemail message (early morning/after hours) also counts—not that I am advocating taking advice from birds on a regular basis but I have “heard” that this can be very effective.
Here are three low-cost and creative ways to thank the Foundation Trustees and Program Staff for investing in the communities your client/organization is helping:
  1. Handwritten thank you notes from Board Members, clients (paws or hoof prints included if your clients are the four-legged variety), and program staff.
  1. Quick videos posted on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Just use the platform that you post to most frequently and tag the corporation or foundation. Or email the link for your contact to share with their team. Here is an example of a low-cost but very charming thank you video that added humor and a down-to-earth touch to a very high-tech medical research environment. Click for Thank You Video
  1. Invite the donor to participate in a GPA chapter meeting or regional conference.  Meet the Donor Panels or sessions on best practices in grant writing or collaboration provide you the opportunity to highlight a funder and for them to discuss how best to partner with them to a broader audience.

But what about that perfect, innovative funding partner who is proactive and transforming the communities they choose to focus on? Consider nominating the private or corporate foundation for a local, state or national service award, or an award in their field of service.
Over the past several years, GPA's Pioneer Awards has offered members the opportunity to nominate foundations either in the annual conference host city or those foundations located anywhere else in the country or the world. In 2016 I had the pleasure of nominating the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta which won the local award that year. It was a great way to thank them in a public, affirming way, and to familiarize them with GPA.
But now the Pioneer Committee would like your help in taking these awards to the next level, not only for you and your funding partners but to better position GPA as the preeminent grants authority. 
How do you think the Pioneer Awards could best serve GPA members and the grants industry as a whole? 

Kimberly Hays de Muga, GPC, is an expert grant professional, fundraiser and trainer. Her 20 years of fundraising experience includes raising more than $30 million from individuals, foundations and corporations for human service non-profits--everything from mobile food pantries to interfaith children's camps to general operating support for the largest pediatric hospital in the Southeast. Kimberly is the owner of Hays de Muga Consulting and is a national trainer with Grant Writing USA. From 2014-2018 she was the Development Director at thee Frazer Center. Previously she was the Senior Manager for Foundation and Corporate Relations at the Atlanta Community Food Bank for seven years. Prior to that, Kimberly was a senior grant writer for the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Foundation for 10 years.  Kimberly is co-author of Preparing for the GPC Exam: Earn Your Grant Professional Certified Credential. She has presented fundraising and grant development seminars and workshops to small and medium non-profits across North Georgia that fight hunger, and is a popular speaker at national and regional conferences of the Grant Professionals Association. Currently chairing the Pioneer Awards Committee for GPA, she has served as Board Chair of the Grant Professionals Foundation and  past president of the Georgia Chapter of the Grant Professionals Association.


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