Have you ever had the opportunity to walk through the Capital District in Washington D.C.? To walk along the Mall? Stop in at the numerous amazing locations of the Smithsonian Institute? Do you know where the federal agency offices are for the departments that you seek or secure grant funds from?

I had the opportunity to do just that recently in the company of others who had never visited Washington D.C. before. They had never seen the White House, walked through the monuments, or had thought about the offices for the US Department of Education, US Department of Agriculture and the like being located right in the heart of the city.

It helped me to look at the city from a fresh perspective. To stop to consider each of the funding agency’s offices that I have come to take for granted. As I explained to my companions about the US Department of Education and the i3 Scale-Up grant I had secured in 2014, I found myself with a renewed sense of awe for the work that is done within those buildings every day.

Many federal grant seekers do so far flung from Washington DC. You may never have had the chance to walk by the offices of the funding agency they were so focused on pre-planning efforts for. Perhaps you hadn’t thought about what the office location was for the federal agency that you follow and interact with on social media as part of your grant research. Or you have participated in a federal peer review process, but only remotely and never on site in Washington DC.

Stopping to consider where your funder is located and where they are doing their work related to your funding partnership, helps you to consider a two key points that will move your grant seeking efforts forward:

1 – If you understand where your funder/staff you interact with at a funder are located, when you are nearby, you can request a meeting.

2 – Understanding the environment in which your funder is operating is critical to who they are. Federal agencies are housed in their own buildings. Those managing funding programs are in the same building with those working on policy initiatives for the agency. In the other granting situations, you will see foundations sharing a floor in an office building in order to have easier and more natural collaborative access to each other as opposed to siloed offices.

I encourage you the next time you are in Washington DC to take a walk and go find your current/potential funding agency offices. Stop to consider the work that is being done within those offices and how you can communicate with the staff in order to be a strong funding partner. Better yet, call your contacts at the department to see if you have a meeting with them in their offices while you are in town.