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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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