What is your nonprofit’s reputation? Is it intact? What about your leadership? What is your reputation as executive director? What about the fundraising and grant liaison? What do others really think about you and your nonprofit? And what in the world does reputation have to do with grant funding? Your nonprofit’s, leadership’s, and your reputation have a lot to do with the nuances of what goes in in the funding deliberations room. The competition for resources is fierce. And reviewers want to be sure their money goes to a credible agency. In addition, grant funders are a small group of people who often belong to the same professional associations, meet each other at conferences, or sit on funding panels together. Your nonprofit’s and your reputation get around. Automatic strike if there is any doubt about the ability of your organization being able to ethically do what it is says it will do.

If you are a fundraiser of any kind, including grant writer, and belong to either the Grants Professional Association or Association of Fundraising Professionals, you are bound to a professional code of ethics. You, personally, must be above reproach when dealing with other people’s emotions and finances. Your personal reputation will follow you from job to job. And reflect on the nonprofit that hires you. You have the awesome privilege and responsibility of shaping lives. You best be ethical about it. The consequences of an unsavory reputation aren’t worth it.

Your nonprofit sets community expectations of it by the words it uses and behaviors it engages in. It is your job, as a fundraiser, to ensure that messages about your nonprofit are consistent with one another throughout all your communications, including grant proposals. Many nonprofits send inconsistent messages confusing the public about who they are and what they stand for. For example, a nonprofit that proclaims the dignity and respect of every person but has a high turnover rate because they treat their staff poorly. Or an agency that says they are financially stable yet implements a ‘we won’t survive without your donation’ donation request. Or an agency that applies for funding without matching their mission and goals with that of the funder. If you want the community, and that includes grant funders, to support your nonprofit wholeheartedly without reservation, then your organization must be consistent in their messaging, both in word and deed.

Social Proof
It’s one thing for you to say good things about your nonprofit. It’s much more powerful when someone else says the same thing about your nonprofit. That’s why testimonials and client stories are so important to proposal writing. Because someone else is backing up what you say. Which is why you want to conduct community and client surveys every so often. So that you can have the direct results of what people think of your agency and its services. Boy is that powerful. As is an outside license, certification, or accreditation – someone else has found you worthy. Organizational history also says a lot: we’ve done it before, chances are we’ll do it again. Always have some sort of social proof that backs up what you say about your organization and its ability to do what it says it can do.

Wrapping It Up
What is your nonprofit’s reputation? Is it intact? What about your leadership? And that of the grant liaison? What about you? What do others think about you and your nonprofit? To ensure a high standing, follow industry ethical standards. Be consistent in both word and deed. Really think through what you’re saying. And get others to toot your horn. Your reputation follows you into the funding deliberation room. Make sure your nonprofit is welcome at the funding table.

Free Online Training
Today’s article deals specifically with maintaining a good reputation. For a more complete discussion of what grant funder’s look at when evaluating proposals, listen to my free online training How to Get Funded: An Ex-Grants Reviewer Reveals Her Secrets at https://joanneoppeltcourses.com/eight-questions-register/

About the Author
From volunteer to executive director, Joanne has been working with nonprofits for more than 30 years. Rising through the ranks at various agencies, she built effective, efficient, sustainable fundraising systems at every stop. Now she shares her hard-learned secrets. An experienced fundraiser, author, trainer, and consultant, Joanne’s mission is to help growth-driven nonprofits build sustainable revenue streams. She envisions a world where nonprofits are equipped with the tools necessary to financially sustain themselves. Joanne is can be found at https://www.joanneoppelt.com/ or joanne@joanneoppelt.com