Proposal and Grant Applications

Lesson 2: Approach Funders and Investors

Once you have completed your intelligence gathering you will know which funders your organization should begin, or continue to, develop a relationship with overtime. It is important to approach funders when you would like to market your organization and potentially influence their funding priorities. You can also approach investors when you have completed a concept paper/abstract for a potential project and need to find funding for this new opportunity.

There are two presentation techniques you can use to approach funders:


When an organization informally meets representatives from a potential funder at a conference or other gathering


When an organization has a scheduled meeting or appointment with a potential funder.

With informal presentations, your organization has a limited amount of time to introduce itself and make an impression on the investor. With both formal and informal presentations, you should hit the following three key points when presenting your organization to potential funders:

  1. Your organization’s name, vision and mission
  2. The proposed opportunity your organization would like to offer or currently offers to accomplish its vision and mission
  3. How your organization is uniquely qualified to deliver the proposed opportunity

The most effective way for you to prepare for both formal and informal presentations is to rehearse. Every person in your organization should be prepared to give at least an informal presentation to a prospective funder. If your organization can make a good first impression through an informal presentation, most likely that can lead into a more formal meeting with the funder.

Preparing Informal and Formal Presentations

Tailoring Informal and Formal Presentations

Instructions: Read and complete the following steps:

  1. Open the funder database and review the information you have collected in your intelligence gathering
  2. Identify the two to five most likely funders or investors
  3. Prepare the elements of your “pitch” to these prospective funders and investors, using the following guiding questions as a guide:
    • Does your organization adhere and relate to the main focus or interests of the institution?
    • Does this put your organization in direct competition with a potential funder or investor (will it make your organization a competitor)?
    • How does your organization contribute to the common good and how can you emphasize this to best attract the interest of a potential funder or investor?
    • How can you present your organizational impact so it is clear to the funder or investor?
    • What elements from the generic presentation should you emphasize or eliminate for this presentation?

Lastly, most funders are not likely to give their commitment after seeing only an informal (or sometimes even formal) presentation. Relationship building, particularly with new funders and investors, takes time and persistence and should be an ongoing process rather than a one-time presentation. Thus, your organization will need to follow-up with those funders that showed the most interest. There should always be one point of contact (preferably the presenter) responsible for re-engaging the funder. Multiple points of contact can be confusing for the funder.


Below are examples of follow-up techniques your organization can use to re-engage a funder:

  • DO send a “Thank You” email for the meeting
  • DO make follow-up phone calls
  • DO schedule follow-up meetings
  • DO provide additional details from the presentation
  • DO establish links with the decision-makers or senior executives of the company or organization

However, your organization should also be aware of what not to do when following-up with funders. Below is a list of follow-up practices organizations should not use when approaching funders:

  • DO NOT post one or two-line messages on websites and online forums, requesting donations or funds.
  • DO NOT send or forward emails to donor agencies asking for funds pointlessly.
  • DO NOT copy proposals from other organizations and send them. It will spoil the reputation of your organization.
  • DO NOT send unrelated funding queries or unsolicited proposals. It is not a good idea to request funds for HIV/AIDS prevention from a donor that only provides grants for malaria.
  • DO NOT post your bank account details online hoping that there will be donations dropping in it. Nobody will donate your organization by seeing just your back account.
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