There was a time when nonprofit organizations, or NGOs, did their work at an arm’s length from donors. Today, NGOs cultivate relationships with current and potential donors – those who support an NGO’s work through public or private foundations. Why network with donor agencies? There are several important reasons to reach out to agencies and organizations that provide or might provide your NGO with financial or other types of support.
One of the primary reasons for your NGO to network with public, private, or corporate foundations is to share your story. The more information you can share with others, the more your message is distributed, the more you increase the chances of someone hearing about the good work you and your staff are doing to make positive changes in people’s lives. Spreading the message about who you are and what you do not only through social media, newsletters, and mails, but face-to-face with board members and staff of foundations sheds light on projects and programs your organization is engaged in. Verbally sharing your stories with others not only heightens the awareness of your NGO’s work, it also gives others who might fund a program or project, the opportunity to learn about your NGO and to ask questions. Failing to communicate with others signals that your organization is inactive.
Another main reason to network is the information you will gather about what other NGOs are doing and which foundations are funding. You will learn about upcoming opportunities, obtain leads to other funding options, and it may enable you and your organization to establish partnerships with other NGOs and foundations in order to collaborate to work on a specific program or project.
Networking with donor agencies may be beyond your comfort zone. However, know that Board members are usually experienced business people and/or wealthy individuals. They are expected to be cultivated or “courted” over time – many years, in fact, – before they will commit a substantial amount of money to a specific cause.