With a deep breath—heart pounding—I dialed the phone number.

He answered on the first ring.

An introverted young grant writer, calling the direct line of the director of a major foundation, on behalf of a nearly unknown nonprofit, was intimidating at best.

It wasn’t my first call, but I will always remember it as a line in the sand that, having crossed over, confirmed my path as an unflinching, proficient fundraiser.

Before the call, I had understood my role as being faithful and diligent to the tasks at hand. But something changed when I heard him pick up the phone.

It wasn’t a miracle, but it was transformational. It wasn’t quite a mild-mannered-Clark-Kent-into-Superman alteration, but it was close.

Before, I was a dutiful fundraiser. After, I was unstoppable!

Before I tell you more, I have to share what I sometimes ask myself, “What if I hadn’t called? What if I’d procrastinated and called a week later? What if I’d put it off for so long, it didn’t make sense to call? What if …?” Thankfully, I’ll never know.

As it turns out, it was the words of a colleague at another nonprofit who had been kind enough to encourage me just to call. Said colleague worked at a larger organization and was already in the middle of a three-year grant with this foundation, a grant that totaled in the tens of millions.

The colleague had said to me, “Just call him, and tell him you know me.” I was bolstered by his generosity. He didn’t have to share this lead with me, but he did.

That phone call, and a visit to the foundation, resulted in an initial grant of $500,000 and, soon after, a multi-year grant of $7 million!

Fundraising doesn’t have to be about a mindset of competing for a limited pie of dollars. It can be about understanding there is enough for your organization’s cause and your organization’s needs—because your mission is important, and those you serve deserve it.

When a foundation’s mission aligns with your organization’s request, and when a foundation says they trust you enough to give you a grant, your nonprofit can and should realize its goals.

This is the power of philanthropy … to leverage our best and most noble intentions for the good of all those we serve.

Start by believing there is more than enough. Remember that people want to make a difference in the world; and be glad you have the high honor of making those important connections.

Then, make the call!

Brenda Lesan Brenda Lesan
Vice President of Grant Writing and Research
Kansas City

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