Recently, Veronica Robbins at The Grant Goddess tweeted about The Worst Reasons for Not Writing A Grant, arguing that organizations should not pass up grant opportunities due to a lack of time, fear of competition, length of funding, or lack of grant writing experience. These are all great points - but they made me think - when IS it in the organization's best interest not to apply for a grant?
Even with extra help, developing a proposal takes a certain amount of resources, so you have to decide whether the chances of funding are worth your valuable time and effort. When making such a decision, here are several reasons to NOT pursue a funding opportunity.
When your objectives don't line up
Funding agencies have goals, just like your organization. If your end is not related to the funding agency's end, responding to an RFP with a misaligned grant application wastes everyone's time.
When you are unable to meet the agency's requirements
For example, many programs require matching funds, funds that you may not have. Funding agencies rarely make exceptions to their own rules, no matter the value of your program or idea. If you can't provide what the guidelines request, better to look for other opportunities.
When you don't have a project in motion ... or at least in mind
Every once in a while, organizations fall into the rut of finding funding sources, and then designing programs inspired solely by the grant opportunity. This can be successful if you come up with a project that is close to your organization's core capabilities. But if you stretch outside your mission and skills, you will have a hard time convincing an agency that you are dedicated to their cause.
When you don't have the time
The Grant Goddess makes a valuable point in her blog post - you have to make the time for grant writing (and even if you hire professional grant writers, key members of your organization should still be involved with the process). But keep in mind - rushed proposals typically suffer from a lack of project planning, inadequate research and support, and major mistakes and oversights. Too short a short fuse may lower your chance at success so low that it's not worth a few frantic all-nighters to pull off. You could also potentially endanger your organization's reputation with the funding agency.
If you're reading this with an air of despair, don't become discouraged! Some of these obstacles can be overcome with a little creativity and assistance and if the RFP you have in hand isn't a great match, there are other resources out there. We're always glad to advise at no cost to you.