Rejected grant proposals

It’s Not You It’s Me: 7 Reasons Why Grant Proposals Are Rejected

We all dread rejection, especially after we’ve worked so hard to find the perfect funding opportunity and fine tune our proposals. Writing a good proposal can take months of hard work and the approval of multiple people. Remember that grant writing is a long game, and it may take several attempts to find the right funding fit.


Sometimes rejection letters can offer very little insight into why a proposal was rejected. Many foundation’s receive so many proposals that they cannot speak with applicants about why their proposal was rejected and what they can do better next time. You may be left wondering how to improve your proposal with so little feedback. Here are some of the top reasons your proposal might have been rejected:

1. A Cookie Cutter Proposal
Submitting the same proposal to every potential funder won’t get you very far. Even if it’s for the same project, every proposal should be tailored to each foundation’s specific interests and funding criteria.


2. The Pieces of the Puzzle Didn’t Fit
Foundations have very specific needs they are attempting to address. It’s possible that the project didn’t fit exactly with their interests, or that a different proposal just happened to fit a little bit better.


3. You Bent the Rules
Those specific instructions listed on the foundation’s website about page counts, supporting documents, deadlines, and how to submit proposals are important. Grant proposals can be thrown out before they’re even read if they don’t meet the funder’s specific guidelines.


4. Presented Too Many Options
Some grant writers will write a proposal that includes multiple projects and ask the funder to choose which to fund. This weakens a proposal and makes the writer seem uncertain. A strong proposal should focus on one project and go into depth.


5. Budget Didn’t Add Up
One of the most common proposal mistakes is having a budget with math mistakes or inflated numbers. More than one set of eyes should review your budget for simple math mistakes before submission. Foundation’s see many proposal budgets and can easily spot when numbers are inflated. Budgets should be as accurate as possible to avoid rejection.


6. Asked For Too Much or Too Little
Maybe the budget added up, but the amount wasn’t all that appealing to the funder. Most Foundations have a general range they prefer to stay within. You can usually find this by looking at past grant recipients on their website or their 990 Form. Keep in mind that some past grants may have been made out of the funder’s usual range as one-time allowances. Avoid basing your budget off of these amounts.


7. It Was Too Late
The proposal may have been submitted too late to receive approval before the project start date. If the foundation received an influx of proposals at the time of the request, it could be that there wasn’t enough time to review the request.


No matter what the reason was for your proposals rejection, you can use it as a learning experience. Move forward by fixing your mistakes and strengthening your proposals.


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