Decisions Often Based On Past Experience

Applying for grant funding requires so much care that applicants might think that decisions are based on some kind of absolute, Olympian standard.

A recent edition of The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) publication “Advancing Philanthropy,” includes an article by consultant Eugene A. Scanlan, based on one person’s experiences inside a foundation. Those experiences led to the following insights, offered in the article “Never Board”:
* Grant decision-makers are not always driven by the cold logic of a proposal and the staff’s write-up. Decision makers draw on their own experiences and emotions, as well as other involvements.
* Even the foundation staff might not know enough about these other factors to predict an outcome.
* Members of the executive committee did their homework. Lots of it.
* Decisions can be organization based, proposed program based, cause/need based or even person based (“I know the director there, and she’s doing a great job”).
* Proposals that use excessive jargon, make claims or do not seem to have wide support from those already served by the organization or others in the community will have difficulty.
* Before a proposal is submitted, especially for a new program or service, an organization should check if other organizations are doing similar things, especially in the same area.
* Understaffed foundations might have designated one person on the board to do the initial review of proposals, so an applicant might be dealing directly with one of the decision makers.
* Grand decision makers are people.