Project Grants Program: Why Didn’t I Receive a Grant?

We’ve just wrapped up another great Project Grants Program grant cycle here at EWB-USA, with more than $322,000 awarded to 60 EWB-USA projects. This was the seventh grant cycle I’ve facilitated, which has given me the opportunity to spot noteworthy accomplishments as well as areas where applicants can improve.

We would be delighted to give a grant to every great application, but we simply do not have enough funding to make that goal a reality. Some applications that are worthy of funding do not receive it, and there is no deeper reason other than there wasn’t enough funding to go around.

But there are consistent reasons a project does not receive funding. Below are the most common issues spotted by seasoned grant reviewers.

Top 3 Ways to Improve Your Grant Application

1. Exhibit an indisputable need for funding. The Project Grants Program is need-based, and its primary goal is to support EWB-USA’s best projects that need funding at this time. As high as 40 percent of applications are ruled out because grant reviewers cannot identify a current funding need.

The grant review team’s first step is to look at the budget. They are looking for:

  • Use of the required budget template
  • Reasonable expenses
  • Itemized large materials costs
  • Amount in project account(s) and chapter general fund(s)

Next, the reviewer checks question 9a on the application, which asks for details about your funding needs. Many, many applicants do not justify a large sum (<$10,000) in their general fund, which eliminates them from consideration. This is not meant to penalize chapters that are great fundraisers or run many projects at one time. This question offers the opportunity to explain why you hold a large sum in your accounts and are still requesting additional funding.

2. Be consistent. Discrepancies in an application make it difficult for a reviewer to follow the narrative of your project. The most common discrepancies we see are:

  • Project Phase. Your application is requesting support for an implementation trip, but every response is focused on an assessment trip.
  • Funding. Your application says you need $5,000, but the information you provide in your budget, the community contributions section, and question 9a do not support this number.

3. Follow policies. Applications are not reviewed if they do not follow the program’s policies. The two main policies that applicants must adhere to are:

  • The program does not allow funding to be applied retroactively. So, for the spring 2015 grant cycle, only applications with travel and expenses occurring between April 16, 2015 – October 15, 2016 were eligible for funding.
  • Only approved EWB-USA projects are eligible for grants through this program. For the spring 2015 grant cycle, 502 and 501Bs had to be approved by February 27, 2015 to be eligible for funding.

I look forward to receiving your applications for the fall 2015 grant cycle! Keep a lookout for grant cycle dates in the View from HQ.

About the Author
Becky Neely
Becky Neely is EWB-USA’s Public and Donor Relations Manager. She served in the Peace Corps in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and has passport stamps for 47 countries. Currently at the top of her travel wish list: South Africa.