When an award is less than you requested

Sometimes a grant award will be smaller than the amount you requested. “It’s not unusual to receive the award notice without an explanation for the reduced amount or a request for a revised budget,” said Barbara Floersch, executive director of The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles.

What should you do? Floersch recommends the following:

1. Stay calm. Be gracious. Say “thank you.”

2. Ask the funder for time to review the budget and program design with your organization’s managers and staff. Since the proposal assumed full funding, you’ll probably have to make some changes.

3. Consider alternatives. Can the lost funding be replaced? Will you need to reduce the number of people served, scope of activities, or length of program operation? How will changes affect the projected outcomes?

4. Discuss revised plans with the funder. Be professional and transparent. Reach a clear agreement so that questions won’t arise later.

5. Even if the funder does not request it, submit a revised budget. And if you’ve had to change the program plan, submit a revised scope of work as well. Ask the funder to respond in writing.

The budget should be a realistic, detailed estimate of the funds required to get the job done. “Don’t add fat because you fear the award could be less than requested,” said Floersch. “Keep it honest.” Handling the situation professionally can result in a solid program and an enhanced relationship with the funder. “But if you blow your credibility with a jacked-up budget,” said Floersch, “that’s something you can’t easily repair.”