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4 practical tips for building relationships with nonprofit funders

Illustration of two people networking and making connections

The secret to successful year-round fundraising for nonprofits is hiding in plain sight. As every seasoned fundraiser will tell you, it comes down to building and sustaining a strong network of nonprofit funders. But there’s a catch: Relationship-building takes time. This means that there is no day like today to begin. 
In this blog post, we’ll not only explore the importance of building strong networks and how to find the folks with whom to prioritize building relationships. We’ll also outline four actionable tips you can use to get started. 

Why it pays to build relationships with nonprofit funders 

Grant funding plays a critical role in ensuring the survival and success of many nonprofits. Not to mention, securing these grants can be quite competitive, especially if you’re seeking funding for the very first time.  

A funder’s personal and meaningful connections with nonprofits play a pivotal role in guiding their giving decisions. One of the best ways to get your proposals on top of the pile is familiarizing funders with your nonprofit and mission. For these reasons, relationship-building with nonprofit funders is an essential step toward your nonprofit reaching its fundraising goals. 

How to find the right people to connect with 

When looking to network with funders, it helps to know who holds the purse strings and has decision-making power at their organization. However, finding these stakeholders can often be tricky.  

To find decision makers—or those close in proximity to them—keep your eyes peeled for the following titles: 

  • Grant manager 
  • Development manager 
  • Development officer 
  • Development coordinator 
  • Grant reviewer 
  • Grant administrator  
  • Grant coordinator 

Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, and titles may contain a combination of these words.  

When engaging nonprofit funders, it’s important to show mutual alignment between their organization and yours. So, be sure to do your homework. Then, strategize how you can communicate how your organization can help funders advance their mission-driven objectives. At the end of the day, supporting your nonprofit should feel like a win-win scenario for all. 

4 actionable tips for growing your nonprofit funder network  

Now, it’s time to get the conversation started. Here are four tips to help you introduce yourself and help your organization get noticed—well before it comes time to start asking for funding. 

  1. Boost your visibility using your Candid nonprofit profile link  

Give funders a transparent glimpse into your nonprofit’s mission-driven work and outcomes using the shareable link to your Candid profile. This link is a quick way to give funders a high-level, credible understanding of your organization and the difference you make. 

Pro tip: Insert this link anywhere you interact with nonprofit funders online, such as your LinkedIn bio, email signature, or on social media pages. If your organization has a Candid Seal of Transparency, consider taking a similar approach to further showcase your nonprofit’s impact.    

  1. Share and interact with funders’ social content 

Most people appreciate receiving a “like” on content they post on social media. But think about ways you can take your interactions to the next level.  

Consider leaving positive comments or resharing funders’ content with your social network to increase your visibility—and theirs. By displaying support for funders’ good work, you are demonstrating a mutual alignment between your organization and their goals. 

Pro tip: Liking and sharing is the easy part, but if you really want to stand out, try to spark a conversation. Ask interesting questions or give thoughtful feedback on funders’ posts. This can help them remember your organization in the future. 

  1. Personalize connections with decision-makers on LinkedIn 

When engaging with key decision-makers individually on LinkedIn, aim to make your initial greeting subtle and personable to kick-off your conversation. For example, when sending an introductory message, consider incorporating something they’ve shared publicly that personally resonates with you. (Bonus points for continuing to engage with and comment on their recent posts.)  

Once you feel like you’ve built rapport with people through social media interactions and direct messages, it’s a good time to reach out about your cause specifically. To help win their support for your nonprofit’s mission, invite the decision-maker to connect with you by adding a personalized message that speaks to your shared goals. 

Pro tip: Use the job titles listed above and Candid’s Foundation Directory’s built-in LinkedIn integration to help you find and connect directly with key decision-makers at prospective foundations.

  1. Attend funders’ conferences and special events for nonprofits 

Another fantastic way to connect with nonprofit funders is to attend public events they host. Many organizations publish a calendar of events on their websites, social channels, or in their newsletters. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to show up for them, especially when you’re invited. After all, you are searching for funders, and they are searching for nonprofits to fund. 

Pro tip: If you are having trouble finding funder-hosted gatherings open for you to attend, you can always turn to Candid’s Foundation Directory. Simply navigate to the Communications section of the funder profile to see a list of their social media accounts and newsletters.  

At the end of the day, most folks prefer to do business with people that they know, like, and trust. So, don’t delay in putting this real-world dynamic to work for your nonprofit. Keep in mind that it’s not easy to build a lasting friendship in a day.  

We hope these tips inspire you to get started today on developing personal relationships with nonprofit funders. Remember, speaking directly to their needs and concerns will ultimately set you up for fundraising success throughout the year.


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    June 13, 2023 3:37 am

    Thanks so much, environmental conservation is now the key of everything

  • Aissatou says:

    April 22, 2023 12:42 pm

    very interesting topic , helpful !!!

  • Frederick Ahwireng-Obeng says:

    April 17, 2023 8:55 am

    Dear Kyle,
    Thanks so much for these useful, practical tips. I will follow them to the hilt and will communicate to you once again very shortly.
    Founder and CEO
    ESDAfrica, Ghana

  • Cindi DiFrancesco says:

    April 14, 2023 5:48 pm

    What great ideas as I am contemplating starting my passion of my heart as a non-profit. Saving this post, for sure, and sharing with others!

  • [email protected]‏ says:

    April 13, 2023 6:21 pm

    Thanks my dear friend about your ideas that makes me feel excited with your writing and great thinking ,so I hope to meet you in every where my best friend in my life .

  • Collins Ugochukwu says:

    April 13, 2023 2:07 pm

    Thank you so much. This articles were very helpful. Kind regards.

  • Arthur E. Sidner says:

    April 13, 2023 11:30 am

    Thanks for sharing these tips. They make sense to me.

  • E-Director says:

    April 13, 2023 10:20 am

    Hello Mr Kivett
    Just checking if you are open to a one-on-one chat on how to get myself on Fundraising events so I can be there where key decision makers are.

    I have a new non-profit and I'm struggling to find funders, even though I am working on very highly in demand topics.

    if possible, I would appreciate a chat with you