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Monthly Archives: February 2017

This post is one of a series that explores reasons why grant proposals fail to win funding. It presents some of the reasons that relate to proposal development (writing and budgeting) and delivery (publishing). These reasons for funding outcomes are among those that are most amenable to a grant seeker’s influence or control.

Other posts in the series have explored other reasons for a proposal’s success or failure that have fallen along a continuum that is less and more within a grant seeker’s control or influence:

  • Choice of opportunities
  • Applicant attributes
  • Context and competition
  • Applicant readiness
  • Proposal content

 

A grant proposal may succeed or fail for any combination of reasons. Some reasons reflect aspects of the proposal as an act of writing and budgeting. Other reasons reflect aspects of the proposal as an act of publishing. These reasons are largely within the control of a grant seeker.

 

Development

Some reasons a grant proposal may fail to win funding pertain to the development of that proposal:

  • Its tone is too formal or too informal
  • Its narrative is too long or too brief
  • Its narrative includes too many extraneous details
  • Its narrative omits key details
  • Its narrative fails to convey organizational competence and/or staff expertise
  • It fails to convey the significance of a problem and/or its solution
  • Its grammar or punctuation is deficient
  • Its text has too many spelling errors
  • Its budget has too many arithmetical errors
  • Its contents are internally inconsistent (e.g., budget and activities)
  • Its content requires too much effort to read (e.g., no headings)
  • It uses too much technical jargon
  • It uses technical terms incorrectly
  • It uses too many acronyms
  • It does not explain what its acronyms mean
  • It omits required information

 

Delivery

Other reasons a grant proposal may fail to win funding pertain to the delivery of a proposal:

  • It uses incorrect application forms
  • It fails to provide all information required on application forms
  • It uses an incorrect document format
  • Its font type or size, margin size, or text-spacing ignore instructions
  • It uses an incorrect file format (e.g., .doc or .pdf)
  • It lacks required print or electronic signatures
  • It omits required attachments or appendices
  • It includes inappropriate attachments or appendices
  • It omits a required letter of transmittal or cover letter
  • Parts or all of it lacks page numbers
  • Its parts or sections are out of a required sequence
  • Required sections or pages are missing
  • It is uploaded far too close to an online application deadline
  • Its contents after uploading are incomplete

 

This is the last post in this series.

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This post is one of a series that explores reasons why proposals fail to win funding. It presents some of the reasons that relate to proposal content (or lack of it). Content is among those reasons for funding outcomes that are most amenable to a grant seeker’s control or influence.

Other posts in the series explore other reasons for a proposal’s success or failure that will fall along a continuum that is less and more within a grant seeker’s control or influence:

  • Choice of opportunities
  • Applicant attributes
  • Context and competition
  • Applicant readiness
  • Proposal development and delivery

 

A grant proposal may succeed or fail for any combination of reasons. Some reasons reflect the proposal’s qualities as an instrument of exposition and persuasion; these reasons are largely within the control or influence of a grant seeker.

 

Content

A grant proposal may fail to win funding for reasons related to its content if:

  • It does not clearly fit a funder’s interests or priorities
  • It does not clearly reflect the funder’s interests or priorities
  • It lacks a well-defined goal
  • It does not link its goal to a funder’s goal
  • It lacks measurable objectives
  • Its expected outputs and outcomes are unclear
  • Its objectives are not attainable in the time available
  • Its work plan is not feasible in the time available
  • It fails to demonstrate a clear and compelling need
  • It presents inadequate data to make its case
  • It provides obsolete or incomplete data to support need
  • Its activities do not follow a logical sequence
  • Its timeline for activities or deliverables is unclear
  • It does not identify persons responsible for key activities
  • Its personnel appear to lack skills necessary for their roles
  • Time commitments of key personnel are insufficient
  • It fails to convey organizational capacity and accomplishments
  • It fails to base its strategies on proven approaches
  • It offers no plan to monitor progress or to adjust strategies
  • Its research rationale or literature review is out of date
  • Its evaluation design fails to measure attainment of objectives
  • Its identified evaluation instruments are inappropriate
  • Its budget is unreasonable (too high)
  • Its budget is inadequate (too low)
  • Its budget is not justified or explained
  • Its budget includes explicitly disallowed cost items
  • Its budget does not reflect the funder’s priorities

 

The next post in this series will explore the development and delivery of an applicant’s grant proposal as potential reasons for its funding outcome.

 

This post is one of a series that explores reasons why grant proposals fail to win funding. It presents some of the reasons that relate to an applicant’s state of readiness to apply for a competitively awarded grant – or to manage one if it were awarded. These reasons are among those at least partially amenable to a grant seeker’s control or influence.

Other posts in the series explore reasons for a proposal’s success or failure that will fall along a continuum that is less and more within a grant seeker’s control or influence:

  • Choice of opportunities
  • Applicant attributes
  • Context and competition
  • Proposal content
  • Proposal development and delivery

 

A grant proposal succeeds or fails for any combination of reasons. Some reasons reflect aspects of the applicant’s leadership. Other reasons reflect aspects of the applicant’s resources. Still other reasons reflect aspects of the applicant’s procedures.

 

Leadership

A proposal may not win a grant if an applicant’s leadership:

  • Lacks firm commitment to pursuing a particular grant opportunity
  • Wavers, procrastinates, equivocates, or acts indecisively before a grant deadline
  • Decides to apply for a grant too close to its application deadline
  • Lacks a pre-existing proposal submission approval process
  • Demands too much lead time or requires too many steps to approve submitting a proposal
  • Decides not to submit a proposal–or decides to submit one–but does so only at the eleventh hour

 

Resources

A proposal may fail for reasons related to an applicant’s access to resources if:

  • Available data do not substantiate need
  • Appropriately qualified key personnel cannot be identified or described
  • Appropriate partnering agencies are unavailable for a required partnership
  • One or more required partners withdraw from a proposal near its deadline
  • Partnering agencies cannot agree to terms on a memorandum of understanding
  • Qualifications of available and identified personnel are inadequate
  • Applicant is unable to adopt a required evaluation design (e.g., an experimental design)
  • Assets are insufficient to commit any to matching funds or to provide cost sharing

 

Procedures

A proposal may fail for reasons reflecting procedural readiness if the applicant:

  • Has fiscal management practices and products that are not audit-ready
  • Lacks formal human subjects research policies and procedures
  • Lacks formal confidentiality and privacy policies and procedures
  • Fails to submit a required letter of intent or a required pre-proposal
  • Fails to submit a memorandum of understanding endorsed by all partners
  • Does not secure authorized signatures are unavailable before a proposal submission deadline

 

The next post in this series will explore the contents of an applicant’s grant proposal as potential reasons for its funding outcome.

This post is one of a series that explores reasons why proposals fail to win funding. It presents some of the reasons that relate to the context and circumstances surrounding grant-seeking opportunities at a given point in history. Other posts in the series explore reasons for a proposal’s success or failure that fall along a continuum that is less and more within a grant seeker’s control or influence:

  • Choice of opportunities
  • Applicant attributes
  • Applicant readiness
  • Proposal content
  • Proposal development and delivery

 

A grant proposal succeeds or fails for any combination of reasons. Some of reasons reflect the context of a specific grant opportunity and the nature and extent of the competition for funding.

 

Context

A grant proposal may fail to win funding due to its context if:

  • Economic conditions have eroded values of assets usable for making grants
  • Government appropriations for a grant program are far less than anticipated
  • A funder suspends, rescinds, or discontinues a grant program before its funding decision deadline
  • A funder has recently dissolved or merged with another entity
  • A funder’s grant-making priorities have changed
  • A funder’s leadership composition or decision-making style has changed
  • Partnering agencies fail to furnish letters or other timely required evidence of partnership
  • Size of the applicant pool favors other more-experienced applicants
  • A funder’s policies or priorities favor other less-experienced applicants
  • A funder desires to fund proposals from certain specific applicants over others
  • A funder desires to fund proposals from certain types of applicants over others

 

Competition

A proposal may fail to win funding due to its competitive situation if:

  • A funder has attracted far more requests than it expected
  • A funder lacks assets to fund all otherwise worthy requests
  • A funder plans to award very few grants in a given program
  • Competitors have shaped the enabling legislation or subsequent regulations
  • Competitors’ grant requests exhaust available funds faster than expected
  • Competitors have presented more compelling ideas or plans of action
  • Competitors plan to invest far more resources in what they propose to do
  • Competitors propose to use a funder’s resources far more efficiently
  • Competitors have cultivated relationships with funder more effectively

 

The next post in this series will explore aspects of an applicant’s readiness for grant seeking as reasons for the funding outcome of a grant proposal.

This post is one of a series that explores reasons why proposals fail to win funding. It presents some of the reasons for failure to win funding that relate to an applicant’s attributes. These reasons are among those minimally amenable to a grant seeker’s control or influence

 

Other posts in the series explore other reasons for a proposal’s success or failure that will fall along a continuum that is less and more within a grant seeker’s control or influence:

  • Choice of opportunities
  • Context and competition
  • Applicant readiness
  • Proposal content
  • Proposal development and delivery

 

A grant proposal succeeds or fails for any combination of reasons. Some reasons reflect the nature and attributes of the applicant as a competitive grant seeker. Among such attributes are reputation, financial history, and organizational capacity.

 

Reputation

A proposal may fail to win a grant for reasons of an applicant’s reputation as a grant seeker if the applicant:

  • Has no prior relationship with a funder
  • Has had a difficult prior relationship with a funder
  • Has done poorly in reporting results of earlier grants
  • Has performed poorly in achieving results during earlier grants
  • Has a negative reputation among grant makers

 

Financial History

In addition, a proposal may fail to win a grant for historical reasons if the applicant’s:

  • Track record in properly and effectively using funds from earlier grants is poor
  • Programs, policies, and/or personnel have been or are the subjects of controversy or scandal
  • Most recent financial audit reports note significant exceptions
  • Audit exceptions remain uncorrected
  • Financial management capacity is uncertain or inadequate

 

Organizational Capacity

Finally, a proposal may fail to win a grant for reasons of an applicant’s organizational capacity if the applicant’s:

  • Capacity or willingness to evaluate its programs is uncertain
  • Strategies are not clearly innovative or research-based
  • Stakeholders have not clearly bought into its new proposal
  • Plan of action does not clearly advance its mission and/or vision

 

The next post in this series will explore an applicant’s context and competition as reasons for the funding outcome of a grant proposal.

This post is one of a series that explores why proposals fail to win funding. It presents some of the reasons that relate to an applicant’s selection of which grant opportunities to pursue.

 

Other posts in the series explore other reasons for a proposal’s success or failure, which will fall along a continuum that is increasingly within a grant seeker’s control or influence:

  • Applicant attributes
  • Context and competition
  • Applicant readiness
  • Proposal content
  • Proposal development and delivery

 

A grant proposal succeeds or fails for any combination of reasons. Some reasons for its success or failure reflect its degree of fit with a specific grant opportunity. Other reasons reflect its failure to fit with a specific grant opportunity. In the continuum of reasons why grant proposals do not win funding, both sets of reasons are among those that fall only minimally within a grant seeker’s control or influence.

 

Degree of Fit

A proposal may fail to win a grant for reasons related to the degree of fit between an applicant and its choice of a specific grant opportunity if:

  • The needs it presents match poorly with the type of funding program or the type of grant award being sought
  • Its geographic location does not fit a funder’s priorities
  • The proposed types of services do not fit a funder’s priorities
  • The proposed beneficiaries (target population) do not fit a funder’s priorities
  • Its boilerplate is regarded as unresponsive to a specific funder’s grant-making priorities or review criteria

 

Failure to Fit

A proposal may fail to win funding for reasons related to a poor fit or an absence of fit in the selection of a specific grant opportunity if the applicant:

  • Is not among the types of applicants eligible to apply for funding
  • Requests either too much funding or too little funding
  • Does not provide a required amount of cost sharing
  • Does not commit any of its own financial resources to the total budget
  • Lacks access to necessary subject area expertise to develop a strong and persuasive proposal
  • Fails to respond to a funder’s absolute and/or competitive program priorities
  • Fails to respond to all of the grant program’s selection criteria
  • Does not address adequately the grant program’s priority criteria
  • Tries to recycle too much from its earlier proposals in its new proposal

 

The next post in this series will explore an applicant’s attributes as potential reasons for the funding outcome of a grant proposal.

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