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Myth: Grant awards are almost automatic.

Reality: Competitively awarded grants are never automatic.


This post is part of a series on Myths in Grant Seeking.


Some grant seekers fall under the sway of the Myth of Automaticity, which is that grant makers award grants automatically after they receive a completed application. One variant of the myth surfaces as: ‘All it takes is to be a nonprofit to get a grant.’ A second variant appears as: ‘Most applicants will get a grant so long as they follow the instructions.’ And a third variant occurs as: ‘Government agencies are required by law to award us a grant.’


Adherents to variants of the Myth of Automaticity regard competitive grants as being even more certain of being awarded than ones a funder may make by applying a formula to data furnished in a formal application. In effect, they wish away or disregard the competiveness of competitive grant making.


At times, if an applicant requests a formula-based grant, its award may seem nearly automatic, but even then it isn’t perfectly thus. Subscribers to the Myth of Automaticity interpret the receipt of a grant as compulsory and available simply for the asking. They regard the situation as one where if they do apply, then they will get a grant in the amount that they seek.


Subscribers to variants of the Myth of Automaticity operate under one or more of several misconceptions. First, that the legal status of an applicant guarantees that it will win a grant, when in fact it does not if its proposal itself proves deficient. Second, that compliance with guidelines is sufficient to win a grant, when in fact it is not if there aren’t enough funds available to make a grant to every equally compliant applicant. And third, that government grant makers must award all available appropriated funds in every competition, when in fact they will not do so if too few proposals are of high enough quality to merit grant awards.


The basic premise underlying the Myth of Automaticity is that if an applicant requests a grant then it will get a grant. In reality, the former action doesn’t always lead to the latter result.


The next post in this series on Myths in Grant Seeking will address the Myth of Universal Eligibility.



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