Most funders review more proposals than they can recommend for funding. Decision making about what to fund is challenging and so is decision giving to hopeful applicants. How do you say yes, or no, so that grant applicants understand your foundation's rationale, feel that they've been treated fairly, and can make realistic plans about their next steps? This guide offers observations and suggestions from funders and grantees to make this task easier and more meaningful.
What's in the Guide?
- Reviewing the basic rules
- Understanding grantseeker expectations
- Managing your role and the rationale for your decision
- Introduction: For most grantmakers, decision making is always difficult, but decision giving can be just as hard: How do you say Yes or No so that grant applicants clearly understand your rationale, feel that they've been treated fairly, and make realistic plans about their next steps?
- The Basic Rules: The basic rules of good decision giving might look like a matter of simple efficiency and etiquette. But decision giving can get complicated in ways that can suddenly make it hard to observe them.
- The Rationale for Your Decision and Its Implications: In giving Nos, rationale is destiny. If you understand the rationale for your decision clearly, you can understand how much and what kind of effort to make in communicating with grantseekers.
- Grantseeker Expectations: Grantmakers describe six situations -- from making site visits to reviewing proposals from friends and former colleagues -- where understanding the grantseeker's expectations can lead to better decision giving.
- How Your Institution Shapes Decision Giving: Grantmakers can't unilaterally change their institutions, but they can understand how institutional practices and culture influence their decision giving challenges. The first step is to identify the expectations and unwritten rules of your foundation.
- Your Personal Identity vs. Professional Role: While retreating totally into a professional role would make grantmakers inaccessible and impersonal, ignoring that role can make decision giving too personal -- creating burdens and dynamics that needlessly complicate the job.
- The Challenges of Saying Yes: A Yes is often just an early step in a long, possibly complicated relationship between a grantmaker and grantee. Getting that relationship off to a good start, with realistic expectations on both sides, means saying a good deal more than just Yes.