Red Flags that Funders Find in Grant Proposals

Grant proposals can be hard to write and time intensive. Sample documents, such as cover letters, letters of inquiry, and proposal budgets, can be a great place to start. Our collection has many materials, opens a new window that can help.

To get you started, below are seven flags that funders find as reasons not to back a proposal.

  1. You didn’t read the directions: Do not assume directions are universal for every grant.
  2. Budget doesn’t add up: Double check your numbers and make sure the math is accurate.
  3. Outcomes are not clear: Activities are plans. Outputs are counts or numbers. Outcomes are changes to the community such as changes in skills or changes in knowledge.
  4. Proposal is not personalized to the funder: Respond to what the funder cares about.
  5. Not clear on who is going to do the work.
  6. Your proposal is unrealistic.
  7. Not checking spelling, grammar, and formatting.

These seven points are from Dave from, opens a new window.

Learn more about searching the Foundation Directory through a tutorial found:, opens a new window

For more help with grant proposals, schedule time with our Business and Grant Librarian at, opens a new window