Foundation Fundraising After 9-11

Dear Kim,

My job is to write grants for a San Francisco based nonprofit. Like many nonprofits, we are being adversely affected in terms of funding post 9-11. A few people I spoke with said they are mentioning 9-11 in their cover letters and some are including it in the need section of the grant. Are there guidelines or any consensus of opinion on post 9-11 grant writing that I should adhere to? What are your thoughts?
—Of Two Minds

Dear Two,

The problem with mentioning 9-11 or the economy in your cover letter is that you are approaching your funders with “We are writing to you because we need money.” That is BIG YAWN for them because everyone who writes to them needs money and quite a few people who don’t write need it also. It is pretty much the human condition. What you want to say is “We are writing you to because of your track record of funding projects like ours,” and then tell them what you are doing. If what you are doing has changed in some way because of the attacks or because of the economy, then of course you can talk about that. Otherwise, focus on what your group does and how it makes a difference. Good luck.
—Kim