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Grant Writer Etiquette

Learning How to Start Conversations

Grant Writer & Fundraising Etiquette

Now that you’ve gotten this far–you know how to build a grant calendar, start an application, and prep all necessary documents– it may feel like you have everything you need. Yet, a critical part of fundraising that is often overlooked, especially for a grant writer, is fundraising etiquette. I call it fundraising etiquette because saying “please” and “thank you” in the nonprofit space can go a long way, especially as you strive to create long-lasting relationships with grantmakers in your local community.

The grant writing process doesn’t end once you click “submit” on a grant application. It is usually just the beginning, primarily if your submitted grant is funded.

The Grant is Submitted, Now What?

Throughout this process, we’ve discussed how to get to the submission phase, but there is something to say about what to do after you click “submit” and you’re waiting for all of the hard work to pay off, figuratively and literally.

A grant application process can take up to six months, maybe even up to a year. In this waiting phase, there can be moments when the funder reaches out for an introductory phone call, a tour of your campus or programming space, or even to review your grant and offer feedback. In this phase, you are building rapport with a potential funder. If a funder doesn’t do this, you can take the initiative to reach out and invite them for a tour or set up a call to invite them to coffee and discuss your application and your alignment and showcase to the funder why your organization is the best fit.

In the long run, funders appreciate being involved in the process because many funders want to build local relationships and continue supporting efforts they strongly believe in. More often than not, having the initiative to start a conversation with a potential funder is appreciated and sought after.

It’s important to note that building relationships should not be presented as bribery, and you shouldn’t invite funders to galas and events for free while your application is in review. The goal is to craft a genuine relationship built on trust, transparency, and genuine interest.

Comfortability and Asking for Money

In the field of fundraising, asking for money is a given. Yet, it can still be uncomfortable to learn how to present your needs while maintaining dignity and compassion for the community you serve. Asking for money immediately sounds like “begging,” but it is simply strategic planning and relationship building.

This comfortability goes back to Lesson 1, which is knowing who you serve and why. Although intense and fulfilling, nonprofit work requires a constant understanding of one’s purpose. Believing in the work you do and the change you’re creating goes without saying, but preparing yourself with the right tools is what gets you toward winning grants and meeting your fundraising goals.

You’re never just asking for money.

You are seeking the right funders and grantmakers to come alongside you to champion the change you know your community needs. There are no quick ways to get money as a grant writer, but there are strategic ways to meet your organization’s needs while embracing the discomfort and strain of fundraising.


Grant writing is a skill that is attainable and is necessary for nonprofits to continue funding their mission and vision. The world of fundraising is often changing–new software is constantly being developed, and ways to fundraise are rapidly growing. Still, the ability to capture your story, weave in complexity and compassion alongside data, and plan well will set you ahead in your grant-seeking journey.