Top Mistakes In Online Grant Proposal Applications

grant proposal meetingDo you recall those days, when printed pile of grant proposal papers were neatly packed and posted to donor agency? It took days to get an acknowledgement, and months to hear award decision.

We have far surpassed those days and evolved into an age of Technology. Though the precise process to submit online grant proposal applications has been shortening and made accessible, yet technology is inhuman and mercilessly punishes even for small negligences.

I had difficult times in submitting LIO (letter of inquiry) using online interfaces and as a result, I got

delayed and eventually I lost my grant opportunity. But YOU need NOT.


I guess I am not the only one. At one or more occasions, I assume a majority of us had to deal with online grant applications. Young generation tends tech savvy but it might be far harder for older people to get transit from paper to the paperless digital world. Grant proposal writing is more than being trendy. I recommend reading attributes of grant writing since this article touches some of these issues.

Having gone through a similar situation, I thought of coming up with thoughts and see how we can wisely handle these common mistakes while putting up our online grant proposal application. Here we go:

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Opting for wrong Application form: This looks silly, but believe me, it is the most common mistake. Particularly International grant applications have different interface or application formats compared to local applicants. Choosing wrong application will cost you.

What to Do Instead: Here you need to match carefully and opt for the best use for our situation. Individual donor agencies don’t give grants to overseas organisations except through Fiscal Sponsor. If this is your situation, better work with your Fiscal Sponsor to put up our online grant application, rather than working all by yourself.

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Ignoring FAQs section: All most all donor agencies have their FAQs (frequently asked questions) section on their website. These FAQs are selected queries often asked by grant seekers, throwing light on many issues. Ignoring them is standard practice, assuming you know all about your donor agency.

What to Do Instead: Don’t ignore them but rather read them carefully before rushing to your application part. FAQs will give you an understanding of your grant eligibility, application process, donor agency priorities, and focus of the project for which you are seeking funds.

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Submitting Multiple Applications: Grant seekers are entrepreneurs, having excellent ideas and projects needing funding. Does this mean single donor agency should support all your projects? Obviously not. Then why submitting multiple applications. Submitting multiple applications is an absolute no for the majority of donors.

What to Do Instead: If at all you happen to find legitimate donor accepting multiple applications for various reasons, make sue and get clarification or prior permission before heading further. In some cases, this also applies to multi-year projects. Are you sure? Then don’t submit separate applications but rather combine it with one application. This simple strategy could avoid rejections from donors.

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Failed to update changes: Grant application submission and review process take many months. Meanwhile, you had updated some key information from your end but failed to notify your donor agency.

What to Do Instead: Immediately update your donor agency about the changes. With changed key information. Maintain a record of all changed key information even if your grant decision is pending. If awarded a grant, the donor will have your updated information, avoiding bounced emails or undelivered letters.

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Setting Up Multiple Login Accounts: Grant proposal process involves extensive research and mapping of potential donors, often done by more than one person involved in fundraising. In this scenario, organisations tend to set up multiple login accounts at donors website to documental the information,  causing confusion.

What to Do Instead: It important to work as a team and document all the needed information before writing your actual grant proposal. Grant administrator or donor relationship officer could set up one login account to save time and avoid confusion.

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Incomplete Information: While you feed your application information, note that online database fields capture it to make it print version on the other end. At times, appendix is attached as documents to support your case. While reviewing your application, grant committee finds that necessary attachments and part of the information in some database fields are missing. Your request is stamped incomplete without giving a second thought.

What to Do Instead: Before submitting your online grant proposal application, make sure to have a random checklist (for sample checklist click here..). Print your filled online applications,(if the interface allows). Give a second look to attachments/appendix. Have someone to proof read and give the third round of check. Following these steps, you could avoid submitting incomplete applications.

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None of us want to submit incomplete grant proposals right? , but sadly it happens. We can’t control the decision of grant committee but I believe we can improve our grant proposal applications to some extent. Perhaps your next grant application is rewarded.

Let me know your thoughts. If you ever submitted any online grant application to any donor agency, I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to share your experience. We are all learning and let’s keep learning. Leave your comments below.

About Babu Rao

Rev Babu Rao is Founder-CEO of United Gospel Mission, a Christian faith-based Non-Profit, in New Delhi, India. He is a self-supportive missionary by call and passionate about grant writing skills. He wants you to learn the same and make a difference. You can catch up with Rao by clicking any of these social media icons.

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