Let’s say your programmatic priority is providing access to clean water to communities in East Asia. You position your organization as one that can design infrastructure, develop sanitation programs, and even craft irrigation plans. A potential donor with interests in funding water projects in East Asia may view your nonprofit as a jack of all trades, and may question where your priorities and true expertise lies. The donor decides to fund a different organization and you’re left wondering why. If only the donor understood your operating model. If only you could reach the donor to explain why your strengths lie in three different areas.
In the end, the donor selected to fund a nonprofit they knew. The grantee's story was familiar. The donor knew that the grantee could deliver on one of the most critical elements of the proposal -- filtration for home use. Even if your organization's irrigation and clean water delivery capabilities would allow you to support filtration for home use, the donor knew with confidence that the selected organization was as well suited as possible to deliver the program, thus ensuring the funding would be more efficiently used, more impactful, many people would benefit at a much faster rate. The donor knew this with confidence because of a long standing relationship with the grantee. The grantee had proven itself and the donor knew it could deliver.
Fundraising in and of itself is a transaction. Money is passed between organizations and a service is delivered. Beyond the transaction, fundraising allows resources to transfer from those "with" to those "without." When grantees understand donor organization's "why", when it's clear what exactly a donor is looking for, the transaction is much easier. When a donor understands the capabilities of the grantee, and how it can deliver on the donor's "why", fundraising builds relationships, which in turn lead to more funding.
Making connections with the right people inside a donor or partner organization may not always come easy. It takes persistence. Making relationship building a key element of your fundraising strategy, however, is really important.
Support each other's "why", find that overlap of interest and vision, and aim high.