So, you and your staff wrote a great grant application that was awarded. Your CEO wrote a letter thanking the funding agency for their generosity, which was sent along with the signed award documents to the agency in a timely manner.
Now you are all ready to get started on your very important project, right?
Not so fast. If the funding agency was a foundation or a corporation, as opposed to the federal or state government, for instance, you definitely need to take one more step: public acknowledgment of the gift.
In fact, for some grant-giving organizations, publicizing their award to you is mentioned in the grant solicitation materials. Some even require a few lines about how you plan to publicize the award—if you are fortunate enough to be selected—as part of the application itself.
Publicly thanking a funder is the polite and professional thing to do. But it also serves another purpose, one that could benefit the entire community. Think of it this way: The more people who know about the foundation and the projects it supports, the more donors they could add to their list. More donors means more money, and more money means more grants can be awarded.
And think about the publicity—and increased support from the community—your agency and its projects could get. It’s a win-win situation, one you need to take seriously.
Making Good Press
If your agency routinely applies for grants from these types of organizations, you should have a plan for publicizing an award already developed and approved. This saves time during the application process, and it gives you time to create a process that will meet the needs of the funder and adhere to any guidelines your agency has. It is not a good idea to make this part up just to be able to move to the next section of the application (not that you would ever consider doing that!). Give it some thought and make sure what you plan to do matches the magnitude of both the gift and your project.
The most basic publicity plan is a well-written news release. If your agency has a public relations function, have them involved in developing the release. If you are it, know the ins and outs of a good release. It should be short (1 page is best), sweet (positive slant on everything), and to the point (easy to read and understand). The funder may have a template you can use to make it easier, and they will definitely be able to give you at least a paragraph on what they do. Include something about your organization and, especially important, about the project being funded and how it will positively impact the community.
Think of other ways you can publicize the gift. If you have a newsletter, publish it. If you have a donor wall, add the funder to it. If they bought you a van, paint their name on it. If an event will take place because of the grant, place professional signs acknowledging the funder’s generosity. You can probably get their logo for the signs.
One last note: If any of the publicity you plan will cost money, figure out how it will be paid for. You may be able to include the cost in the grant project budget, but make it reasonable. Press releases are free, and most news outlets are looking for feel-good stories, so you probably won’t need to spend anything.
Which is another thing you can put in your application.
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