What Grantseekers Wish Grantmakers Knew About Communicating Decision

  • Put more guidance in the guidelines. Many grantseekers rely on written guidelines as their primary resource in determining whether to apply to a foundation for a grant. They therefore emphasize that guidelines should be as detailed and precise as possible. “I want to know who they are funding right now,” said one grantseeker, rather than having to rely on annual reports that often feature grants made a year or more ago.
  • Talk to us so we can decide whether to apply. “My belief is that the best way to get grants is to get a relationship with people,” said one grantseeker, expressing a common sentiment. “What comes out of those relationships are generative ideas. In my best experiences with program officers, we’ve cooked up grants together.” The other additional benefit, for both grantmaker and grantseeker, is the possibility of an early, definitive No if it appears there is not a match. “I’d much rather hear a No right here,” said one grantseeker.
  • Double-check your expectations. Grantseekers are sometimes troubled to find during the proposal-development process that grantmakers have unrealistic expectations. For example, one grantseeker decries funders who “don’t understand that they can’t make systemic change with $5,000 or $10,000 grants.” Her plea: “Be willing to be a fish in the size pond you live in.”
  • Call with a Yes. “It makes you feel good that your proposal is important enough to warrant a phone call from the grantmaker,” said one grantseeker. It can provide some encouragement and affirmation, as well as getting the grantor/grantee relationship off to a good start.

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 Saying Yes/Saying No to Applicants.