Most grant writers dread even the word REPORT. Writing reports to funders can seem like an irksome and perfunctory task, but as a grantee, you have privileged access to your funder’s ear; it’s up to you to say something meaningful.
If you’re like most grant writers, the last thing you need is another item on your To Do list, especially an optional one. But the best thing about writing reports is you don’t have to write a report, to write a report.
Even when reports are not required, take the time to connect with each of your funders during the grant period. If you have a name and number, pick up the phone to touch base and say, “Thank you”. Send photos and program updates when there is news to share or a special milestone has been met. Be sure to include them on your holiday list and major event promotions. And always send a final report, preferably before applying for new funding.
Here are 5 Reasons You Should Love Writing Reports:
REASON #1 - You have the funder’s attention – no need for awkward introductions, quick program pitches, or unnecessary begging. A report gives you a blank-slate opportunity to boast and remind your funder who you are, what you are up to and how successful you have been – which can make a huge difference next grant cycle on decision day when there’s a stack of applications competing for attention and limited funds, especially with large and/or new funders.
REASON #2 - Good communication creates connection. Your funder will feel more involved in your efforts, which can increase their investment in your success. This can lead to a deeper level of partnership, including additional funds as well as networking connections, exposure, resources, volunteers, and other kinds of support. An inspired funder who feels connected to your success will sing your praises and recommend you to others looking to contribute to a worthy cause. Afterall, the easiest way in the world to find new funders is for them to call you!
REASON #3 - A report creates the opportunity for conversation with your funder. It is an invitation for feedback, which can be invaluable in determining your next move or planning your next submission. Through conversation with funders you can learn what it is about your organization or program(s) that excites and concerns them, recent shifts in foundation priorities, availability of funds and other important information that can provide direction and enrich your next proposal. Many funders are genuinely interested in what you have to share. You will be surprised how much you can learn from a conversation and how excited your funders will be that you listened.
REASON #4 - You can safely express your challenges and setbacks, how you are addressing them, and how you would use their fiscal support (or where funds are needed) to improve, expand, or create great results. Reports are a safe space to be vulnerable and authentic with your funder; show them they are truly a partner in your success, not just a bank account. Learning how to communicate challenges in a way that shows innovation and strength while paving the path for the next request is a skill worth developing.
REASON #5 - A good report can make writing your next grant request easier. Reports can provide great text to repurpose for use in a proposal- particularly with respect to results and client stories. Also, if a funder has already received information from you in a report, they do not need to learn everything about your program from responses made within the confines of a grant application. A strong report clearly communicates your program’s successes, where your efforts are now compared to your goals, what’s next for you and your program, and what all that means for your funder. In fact, a great report can make submitting a new application unnecessary. When a funder sends you an unsolicited check or extends your contract after reading your report, you will know you have mastered the art of report writing.
Having your funder’s attention… well, means you have your funder’s attention! If you are required to submit a report, why not take the time to make it a great one? Take the time to cultivate a stronger relationship with your funder and lay the groundwork for future funding requests.
Once you change your perspective about the purpose of reports, you will find lots of reasons to love them.
About the AuthorMore Content by Rachel Waterman