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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 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.

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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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