Meet the Funders Preparation Guide

Congratulations on making the decision to participate in the ONLC Meet the Funders. This is a unique opportunity for ONLC participants and the preparation you do before the conference will have a tremendous impact on your experience.

  • Will the session be productive?
  • Will you leave the session with knowledge that you didn’t have before you arrived?
  • Will you feel as if you represented your organization well?

Come prepared and the answer will be yes!

Meet the Funders Structure

Foundation representatives will be seated at tables with a limited number of seats around them. Choose the first foundation you would like to meet and have a seat.  The ONLC Meet the Funders moderator will begin the first 20 minute round. The foundation representative will make a very brief statement about their foundation, their grant process and their priorities. This should be a review for you if you have done your research. The foundation representative will then answer questions. Please have concise questions prepared as time is limited and everyone at the table deserves a chance to ask a question. The generally accepted etiquette is that organizations refrain from pitching their particular organization or particular proposals to funders. Rather, this is a time to hear from funders, note what they stress about their organization’s giving program, and to ask clarifying questions. The moderator will announce when the round is over and it will then be time to move to another table. To maintain the flow of these sessions, it is imperative that you move on and choose a new foundation for each round. There will be time to visit three foundations during each Meet the Funders session.

Space is limited and available on a first come basis.

Tips and Information for Success

Research the foundations – Use the website!  The ONLC website’s “Participating Foundations” page is an incredible resource.  There are short descriptions and links to information pages on each of the foundations.

Know the foundation’s funding priorities –  For example, it would not be a productive use of anyone’s time at your table to ask questions about an environmental project if the foundation only funds the arts.

Have a plan before the session begins –  The Meet the Funders session schedules will be available on the website in April as well in the conference guide you will receive at registration.  Be prepared.  Know the foundation reps you hope to see.  The session changes move quickly.

“Meet the Funders” sessions are designed to gather information –   Ask questions that aren’t already answered on the foundation’s website.  Be clear and concise with your questions.  Be respectful of your colleagues and allow everyone an opportunity to engage with the representative.

Can you make an informative, effective, and concise “elevator pitch” in 60 seconds? – The “Meet the Funders” sessions are designed to gather information and make face-to-face contact.  If you have an opportunity to continue the conversation with a foundation representative during lunch, between sessions, or at the NAO/RVNN Reception, how will you quickly and clearly describe your organization?   Prepare your pitch in advance and practice it.

Bring business cards and printed information –  Whether you have the opportunity to make your pitch or not, sharing your business card and printed information about your organization is a great way to network.

If you have questions, please feel free to ask us using the contact form.  Above all else – be prepared!

We look forward to seeing you at Meet the Funders.