Putting a Grant Rejection Into Perspective

Most grant writers tend to blame themselves unduly if an application is rejected. Granted, there are sometimes instances where obvious mistakes have been made on the part of the grant writer. However, I have found that most professionals in this field are sincerely dedicated to their jobs and really want to receive the grant money. This is a very big incentive to do the very best job possible on the grant application.
This field of work has some features which are different from many others. There is a need to remain focused and stay on track, as tangible products must be produced. It is hard to “slack off” when there is a submission deadline to be met. The funding agencies will not accept late applications. Grant writers who do not produce an application on time will not have many more chances to redeem themselves. Not meeting the deadline and therefore not being able to submit an application is considered to be a failure of the worst sort.
This of course produces a pressure to perform, which can, in extreme cases, induce performance anxiety. This is exacerbated by the highly competitive field in which the grant writer operates. In the case of most federal and state grant opportunities, all municipalities, counties, or nonprofits applying are in competition with one another. This does nothing to reduce the pressure.
Conversely, when an application is approved, the grant writer becomes a “rainmaker”. As one can imagine, this is a highly respected person who is given a great deal of importance within the organization.
The purpose of saying all of this is to caution the grant writer to not become overly identified with the results of any one particular application or even several applications. In order to preserve one’s sense of balance, it is necessary to not become overly dejected when an application is not funded or to take too much of the credit for successful applications

My Article on Grant Central USA

My article on Grant Central USA discusses grant and low-interest loan opportunities for businesses: http://bit.ly/12x7sE5 .

I have also contributed articles to Grant Central’s blog regarding law enforcement grants and fire protection grants. They can all be found at the link above, as well as an interview with me conducted by Rodney Walker of Grant Central USA.

Searching for Grant Funds

I have found that search resources and techniques are constantly changing and evolving. It is necessary for the grant seeker to continually stay abreast of new search tools in order to be able to locate all potential sources of funding. There are a considerable number of free search resources. Some of these are print materials which can be found in local and college libraries. However, online search tools have become the norm. Often, community foundations will share their search tools with local nonprofits. For example, the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, located in Salisbury, Maryland, has a subscription to the Foundation Center Online. Nonprofits are welcome to come to the office and review this database, along with the extensive library.

Nonprofit organizations looking for foundation money will either need to invest in fee-based search tools or have a wonderful support system in the form of larger organizations which will allow them to borrow their search tools. Many of the search tools for federal and state grants are free. Local governments are in an enviable position. Since most of their funding comes from specific federal and state governments, it is much easier to identify the agencies which can help with their projects. Most of my clients are municipalities and counties, and I very seldom have to do an extensive grant search for them. For example, there are only certain agencies and programs that fund water and sewer projects located in my state. These include the Community Development Block Grant Program, the Maryland Department of the Environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Law enforcement agencies here receive the majority of their funding from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Maryland Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention. Smaller law enforcement projects may also receive funding from local foundations, banks, businesses, and service clubs.

Fortunately, the grant seeker will find a plethora of search resources. This is due in part to the pervasive availability of electronic information. We are in the enviable position of having to spend a significant amount of time weeding out grant search tools and potential funding agencies, rather than having to work hard to ferret out this information. It is a matter of learning to work efficiently and utilizing those search tools which will give the most “bang for the buck”. This could also be expressed as “learning to work smarter, not harder”. Of course, the beginning grant writer will need to take time to learn which search tools provide the most reliable and easy-to-access information. Learning the art of discrimination in this area does take time. Do not be discouraged if you feel at first as if your energy is being scattered in a dozen directions. With patience and diligent work, the grant writer will learn how to make the most effective use of time when doing a grant search.

How to Survive a Grant Monitoring Visit

Some agencies will perform a review (monitoring visit) of the grantee’s files after the grant period has expired. The purpose of this review is to determine whether the grantee carried out all of its administrative and financial responsibilities in an acceptable manner. Among the items generally covered in such a review are the following:
• If a public hearing was required, did the grantee hold the hearing, provide ample advance notice to the public, and retain documentation of what transpired?
• Was any competitive bidding handled in a fair and equitable manner, with ample opportunity given to any Disadvantaged Business Enterprise?
• Was the work to be funded by the agency properly inspected prior to any disbursements of funds?
• Were all financial transactions completely documented and properly handled consistent with the policies of both the grantee and the funding agency?
• If the project involved direct assistance limited to individuals with certain characteristics — i.e., low and moderate income status, did the grantee properly qualify each beneficiary?
• Were project goals and objectives met?
• Did the grantee evaluate the project for its success in meeting the identified need?

Some programs monitor every grant. It may even take a period of a few years after the expiration of the grant, depending on staff, but the monitoring will be done. Other agencies monitor only a small percentage of their grants on a random basis. Still others send in the monitoring team only when there is reason to suspect there are problems.

Most monitoring visits of which I am aware are done in the spirit of trying to assist the grantee. Naturally, if problems are found, corrective action must be taken. However, most funding agencies tend to take the attitude that the monitoring visit is more of a technical assistance session. However, if monies are spent improperly, either on purpose or inadvertently, the grantee must generally repay the entire amount in question. One example of this would be a grantee which did not properly qualify certain individual beneficiaries of assistance. If this were the case, they would generally have to repay the amount of direct assistance provided to persons who did not qualify under the guidelines of the program.