Collaborating with Your Funders
This is about collaboration.
But not about collaborating with other organizations or collaboration amongst staff.
It is about collaborating with your funder.
And it starts with submitting a proposal with a strong tone of collaboration.
You want potential funders to read proposals that make them feel excited to be part of the solution.
Three tips to make your proposal feel collaborative.
1. Avoid sad and accusatory language. In an effort to describe the problem, we sometimes use severe or catastrophic language while also blaming society for allowing the problem to develop. This leaves readers feeling sad and guilty. Despair and shame do not motivate people to join causes. To excite and empower readers, try to articulate the problem within a context of hopefulness.
2. Infuse a tone of inclusivity. In an effort to highlight your organization's strengths and unique offerings, it is easy to run the risk of using exclusive language. For example, it is common to say that an organization is the "only one of its kind in Canada." While that may be true, it may also give the impression that your organization is a "lone wolf." Lone wolfs are not collaborative. Use statements like that wisely or couple them with sentences that restore a tone of inclusivity.
3. Use funder language and do not use jargon or industry-specific terminology. There are multiple ways to say one thing. Make sure you say it in a way that resonates with the readers. A funding proposal is not an academic document to break ground and secure tenure. There is no need to impress with obscure words and references. Use language that eliminates disparity between the readers and your organization.
In a way, proposals are invitations to join a cause. Make your invitations inviting!