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The Insider's Guide to Grantmaking: How Foundations Find, Fund, and Manage Effective Programs by Joel J. Orosz

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The Four Reasons to Decline a Proposal

Every year, U.S. foundations decline proposals quite literally by the millions. Yet all these decisions are made for one or more of only four basic reasons:

  1. The proposal requests a much larger amount than the foundation is willing to pay—or is even capable of paying.
  2. The proposal describes an idea that lies outside the scope of the foundation's funding guidelines.
  3. The proposal describes an idea that is within the scope of the guidelines but is clearly of inferior quality.
  4. The proposal describes an idea that lies within the scope of the guidelines and is competitive in terms of quality but is marginally less promising than those that are chosen for funding.

Each of these reasons for declining a proposal ...

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