Annoyed grant applicant

7 Things Funders Do That Annoy Grant Applicants

A while ago, we posted a list of things that applicants do that annoy funders. In the spirit of fairness, this week we thought we’d bring you a list of things funders do that annoy grant applicants.


1. Keeping application questions top secret.
Online application forms generally make the grant application process easier and more efficient for funders and applicants. However, when online applications only allow applicants to see questions one at a time instead of allowing them to preview all of the questions at once, it can be frustrating for the applicant. The applicants cannot strategically prepare their answers to application questions ahead of time.


2. Character counts that don’t make sense.
Inadequate word count requirements can make applications much more difficult for applicants. For example, if a response only allows 100 characters to explain all of the applicant’s goals and objectives but gives applicants1,000 characters to explain the geographic area they wish to serve, it can be frustrating. To make matters worse, occasionally online applications won’t disclose what the character count is. This means applicants may have to experiment with different lengths of responses, creating an unnecessary headache.


3. Posting deadlines too late.
It is a great deal of work for applicants to find and evaluate grant opportunities, let alone prepare a well-executed proposal. Funders that post their guidelines and deadlines less than a month in advance might cause those applying for funds to scramble in order to organize their materials to meet the funder’s expectations.


4. Not giving a funding range.
When funders neglect to provide a range for monetary awards or list the amounts previous grantees received, applicants are left guessing about how much they should ask for or whether or not the funding opportunity is worth their time and effort.


5. Asking the same question multiple times.
Many times, a grant application will ask the same question more than once. For example, a question that asks the applicant to state their goals may require a very similar answer to a question asking the applicant to explain how they will measure their intended outcomes. The wording of the questions may be slightly different, but the applicant may find themselves straining to think of a new way to say what they have already stated, causing the application to feel repetitive.


6. Not allowing online or emailed applications.
Grants that do not provide online or email applications create unnecessary work for the applicant by not utilizing easily accessible technology. Hand delivery could mean a long drive for the applicant. Mailing an application requires postage fees and leaves the applicant uncertain about whether or not their application arrived at its destination. Faxing has become so outdated that many outstanding applicants may not have access to a fax machine.


7. Going incommunicado.
Funders that don’t respond to an applicant’s question or don’t confirm they have received the applicant’s proposal can be quite discouraging. The applicant has put a great deal of time, energy, and effort into their proposal; when funders neglect to acknowledge this it can create some anxiety in the applicant. Ideally, funders should be available to guide applicants through the application process and ensure that any issues are resolved quickly.


What annoys you as an applicant? Share your pet peeves about writing grants with us in the comments!


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