Let’s face it: Grant writing is a competitive sphere. Very few grants are funded, even from well-developed, established nonprofits. The industry average acceptance rate is about one in ten. So what are some of the reasons for grant proposal rejection?
1. The proposal just wasn’t very good
Poorly-written proposals do happen. Sometimes, they even get funded based on the strength of the organization alone or because of a board connection! But more often than not, bad proposals are one of the reasons for grant proposal rejection.
2. The foundation liked the idea but didn’t fund it
This is one of the top reasons for grant proposal rejection. Perhaps the board of directors of the foundation in question spent all of the allocated funding on pet projects before they could get to your proposal. Or maybe there were so many good ideas to fund that there just wasn’t enough money to go around. This sort of thing happens behind the scenes and doesn’t reflect at all on the strength of your proposal.
3. The organization wasn’t well prepared
We come across this problem often: An organization asks a grant writer to step in to write a specific grant proposal they’re set on, and the grant writer takes their word for it that they have all the details ironed out. But the organization can’t get everything the grant writer needs together in time, so details are thin and the proposal is weak despite the writer’s best efforts.
4. The grant opportunity wasn’t a good fit
Often proposals are rejected because they don’t fit with a funder’s stated (or unstated) interests. This is either due to sloppy prospect research or a lack of information from the funder.
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