Sue: Julie alluded to the highly possible “message” distortions and lapses your community partners may present to the prospective grantor on your behalf, as they take from your more accurate and articulate draft of the case for support. I suggest another caution.
The tactic of enlisting those in the community having positive influence to help your proposal win favor with a granting foundation, while having the obvious benefits when such connections work well, in turn can, have consequences when they do not.
Consider the fact that the stewards of other people’s money---granting foundation program officers and corporate contributions managers---often zealously guard the resources to which they are entrusted. That being said, suggests that in some cases, at least two things can go wrong when outside endorsements are received---besides the possible errant messages as Julie and I described.
One is that too many support letters, some even from the “wrong” people, can be either intimidating, or annoying, to that money steward. Even if such support letters are agreeable to that individual, it can pose a problem regarding how such endorsements can be presented to those who rule on the funding, and how those people in turn would be regarding the array of endorsements themselves.
You also run the risk that no matter the instruction you provide your community partner endorsers to address their letters to the program officer or contribution manager---or other designated, chief, contact---there are always those eager to support you who will go over the heads of the principal contact you designated, and send their letters to board members they know, CEOs, and others who supervise the money stewards. In more cases than not, that steward will resent this going around them, which was not your fault, and though well intended, you and the organization risk alienating the one person of authority you never want to lose.
Just two or three, perhaps even just one, letter of support will do the trick, rather than a host of what may seem to be random and disparate knocks on the funding door which may prove, in the end, to be unwelcome.
Once, when guiding a proposal through a program officer, one of our board members applied his leverage and leapfrogged his endorsement to the president of the foundation. A letter came back from the program officer, addressed to me, began with, "Our foundation President has forwarded your request for funds to me because, as you should know, it is my responsibility to review all proposals prior to the trustees considering them." Being chastised as I was for not following the rules isn't exactly the best way to further a dialogue with a person whose recommendation was crucially important to our funding request---and to my future relationship with him.
P. S. How about letting us know if you agree or not, and what you end up doing?
Tony Poderis http://www.raise-funds.com
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