Reach out to funders before applying for a specific opportunity

  • November 9, 2023

As a small business owner, applying for federal grant funding can be a daunting task. With so many other applicants vying for the same funding, it can be challenging to stand out from the crowd. However, there is a key strategy that can significantly increase your chances of success: developing a relationship with the program officer.

We cannot emphasize enough how important it is to build a connection with the program officer. This person is the gatekeeper to the funding you need to grow your business. They are the ones who will review your proposal and make a recommendation to the grant committee. If they are impressed with you and your proposal, they can become your advocate during the review process.

So how do you go about building this relationship? Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Do your research

Before you even submit your proposal, do some research on the program officer. Find out what their background is, what their interests are, and what their priorities are. Look for any commonalities between their interests and your business. This information can help you personalize your approach and show that you have done your homework.

2. Be professional and respectful

When you first make contact with the program officer, whether through email or phone, be professional and respectful. Introduce yourself and your business, and explain why you are interested in the grant program. Ask if they have time for a brief conversation to learn more about the program and their role in the review process.

3. Ask thoughtful questions

During your conversation with the program officer, ask thoughtful questions that show you have a genuine interest in the program and their role. Ask about the types of proposals they have seen in the past, what they look for in a successful proposal, and any tips they have for applicants. Listen carefully to their answers and take notes.

4. Follow up

After your conversation, send a thank-you email to the program officer, thanking them for their time and insights. Reference the specific topics you discussed and express your enthusiasm for the program. Consider sending occasional updates on your progress or any relevant news related to your business.

5. Be persistent but not pushy

It’s important to be persistent in your efforts to build a relationship with the program officer but not pushy. Respect their time and workload, and don’t bombard them with emails or calls. Be patient and persistent, and make sure your interactions are always professional and respectful.

By following these tips, you can establish a strong relationship with the program officer and increase your chances of a successful grant award. Remember, the program officer is your ally in the grant process. Treat them with respect, show a genuine interest in the program, and be persistent in your efforts. With a little bit of effort, you can stand out from the crowd and secure the funding you need to grow your business.

We work with high-growth startups and organizations that support the startup and innovation ecosystem. We build highly specific non-dilutive funding menus, provide proposal preparation services, and measure outcomes of funding through evaluation. Schedule a consult call with us HERE.