from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, 1998
- The application is outside the purview of the funding agency. The applicant either
failed to learn about the agency's restrictions or areas of interest or misunderstood
- The subject is not relevant to an issue of regional or national
importance or lacks sufficient scientific significance. Most funding
agencies seek to fund projects which offer the prospect of replicable solutions
to societal problems or that will make a significant contribution to knowledge
in a particular field.
- The methodology appears to be flawed. A proposal may address
a problem of significance which is important to the funding agency, but
it may be rejected because it approaches the problem in a way that the reviewers
do not believe adequately tests its own assumptions or because it fails
to ask the right questions.
- The applicant has not included measurable outcome indicators
in the proposal. Without some means of measuring success of the project,
funding agencies will not invest their resources.
- The funding agency is not the most appropriate source of funds
for the proposed project. If reviewers believe another government program
or private foundation is a more appropriate source of funding, they may
decline a proposal regardless of its merits. In some cases, they will refer
the grant seeker to the more appropriate source.
- The funding agency has already funded a similar project.
It is rare that a problem of regional or national and sometimes scientific
significance is perceived in only one place at one time. If the funding
agency has already funded someone else who has approached the same problem
in the same general way, a turndown is likely
- The funding agency's priorities and interests may have changed.
Because both governmental agencies and foundations are concerned with addressing
changing societal problems or advancing technology, their priorities and
interests are constantly evolving. What was a priority a month ago may now
have been replaced by an emerging issue.
- The proposed project does not allow for the highest and best
use of the agency's funds. Most funding agencies do not consider charitable
effects of a proposed project as a major decision factor. Instead, they
have goals of putting in place programs which can be self-sustaining and
can be replicated or which will have a major impact on a discipline.
- The applicant has failed to demonstrate fiscal accountability.
Funding agencies will make grants only to those organizations which have
demonstrated ability to manage the funds. Failure to provide sufficient
detail regarding fiscal systems and experience can result in a turndown.
- The applicant has used the "shotgun" approach.
It is clear to reviewers when the applicant has not read or understood the
agency's interests and application procedures and has instead forwarded
a generic proposal to many funding sources at the same time. Lack of "match"
with the agency's priorities and criteria ensures a turndown.