Three Most Common Reasons for Being Denied a Grant

Wondering whether your project is likely to get a grant? Wondering why you didn’t get a grant in the past? Read this post about some of the common reasons that organizations have not received grants from the Diverse City Fund. This was written by a member of the Grantmaking Team, which makes the decisions about which proposals will be funded. 

In general, over DC Fund’s first two grant rounds, the three most common reasons proposals are not funded were:

1. It is not clear how the project is fulfilling a social justice mission. Many projects are doing great service work, but those with an underlying emphasis on empowerment are considered more in line with the mission of the fund. For example, an after-school reading program to improve test scores is service work. A program using materials that teach cultural pride to a marginalized population has an underlying emphasis on empowerment. If your project can be construed as service work, go out of your way to let us know what the social justice component is. Questions we will ask:
– Does the project support people of color?
– Are the people they support represented in the leadership of the group?
– Is it volunteer-led?
– Is it in DC?
– Is there a social justice component?

2. It is unclear how the work is going to be accomplished, how much is needed, or what the funds would be used for. Most of us are familiar with the challenges involved in grassroots organizing, so we will read between the lines in evaluating your ability to make it happen, but be realistic in your goals and your budget and explain as much as you can about the resources you have. Questions we will ask:
– Do they seem to have the resources to do this work?
– Are the budget items clearly outlined?
– Are they asking for funds for staff?
– If they only receive part of the ask, can they still move forward?

3. The organization is well-established with a large budget, or has access to other funding sources. If you’re connected to a large organization, be very clear about the connection. Explain why this organization is not able to help with this work, and why more traditional funders wouldn’t be interested.

Got more questions? Attend tonight’s grant application information session at 6:30 pm at ECAC, 733 Euclid St NW (note: conference call option available in case of severe weather), or contact one of the DC Fund volunteers at 202.709.7038 or