Your Personal Identity vs. Professional Role

  • Personalizing the burden.
    If they don’t pay attention to their professional role, grantmakers will tend to see their interactions in strictly personal terms. One grantmaker described how she feels guilty when grantseekers appeal to her personally by explaining that if “the foundation says No, their work wont’ be able to go forward …You get involved in a torrent of persuasion. Often I find myself getting inarticulate and abstract. I get off the phone feeling terrible.”
  • Focusing on your professional role.
    “What I've discovered,” said one grantmaker about her own sense of professional role, “is that when I have gone through a process of developing goals for my grantmaking, and can be clear enough to explain them inside and outside the foundation, I find it much easier to say No — because I can describe the path that I’m on.” She continues: “It doesn’t mean that I’m right and the applicant is wrong. It’s about making choices. But when I’m not so clear about the path, I find myself confronting my own confusion while I’m saying No — and that’s confusing for everyone.”

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.