Varieties of Floundering

There are three prevalent types of floundering — each of which exhibited different warning signs, called for different interactions, and even created different dynamics in the grantor-grantee relationship:

  1. Program design or implementation: These are the troubled grants we should be lucky to have, as the problem often becomes quite clear — i.e., some element of program design or operation needs correcting — and with some good analysis and brainstorming, solutions can often be found.
  2. Organizational performance: In these troubled grants, the problem is not a grantee’s programs, which might be brilliantly conceived and very well implemented, but the organization that runs them, which might face one or a series of problems, ranging from financial mismanagement to high staff turnover.
  3. Strategy or values conflict: More subtle, and sometimes more baffling, are situations where the problem is neither the grantee’s program nor organization — both of which might be running fine — but instead a conflict (usually not clear at the outset of the grant) between the funder’s vision of the underlying strategy and the grantee’s. It’s useful to keep these distinctions in mind (though others could be just as useful) to avoid the pitfall of assuming all troubled grants are alike, and call for the same responses.

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by Candid Learning for Funders using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from When Projects Flounder.