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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 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.

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