Congratulations, your hard work has paid off and you have secured a grant. You now need to get on with delivering whatever activity you set out in your bid. But you have another job to do: to maintain the relationship with your funder.
Just how much of a relationship you can develop will depend on the size and length of the grant and the nature of the funder. At a minimum, send a thank you and comply with whatever conditions and requirements are set. Most commonly this will be a grant report at the end of the funding period. And even if this is not requested, you should always send a short report explaining what the grant was spent on and the difference it made.
The easiest way to work out what sort of a relationship the funder wants is to ask them. When and how often they want you to get in touch? Do they ever visit? Do they want to see your annual report? Do they want an invite to your AGM? When such a conversation is not possible, you can look at their public information for clues as to the relationship they want with grantees. Do they share details of projects they have visited in their annual report? Are their case studies on their website? If yes, then there it is likely that they will be interested in hearing from you. So, do let them know if you have any significant events where they could attend. Or if you have a good story with a positive outcome from their funding to share. And if they are active on social media, send them photos and stories of the work they are funding or that tie in with wider campaigns such as world mental health day, volunteer week or local charity day.
Will this mean they will fund you again? It doesn’t circumnavigate the application process, but it won’t do any harm to remind them that you exist, delivered what you said you would and do good work. And linking your work to theirs could be good for your credibility and help with raising your profile.
Not communicating with your funder is the worst thing you can do. If a grant holder goes quiet when asked for information, it is nearly always bad news. It usually means the funded work has gone off track due to staff turnover, loss of funding or other serious issues. Being upfront and telling a funder what is going on is always the best approach. However hard to do, it is far better than a funder hearing it from someone else first. And it really will affect the possibility of future funding if a grant report is never returned or the work does not go to plan and you never explain why.
So when you are still in the warm glow of getting the grant, don’t forget to write that plan for how you are going to manage the ongoing job of communicating with your new funder.