Blog Post

5 Things Not to Do When Seeking a Grant

Tiffany Donelson, the foundation’s VP of program, recently shared 5 things she wishes grantseekers knew. This week, Senior Program Office Garrick Wong has five more tips: what NOT to do when seeking a grant.


1. Don’t submit a grant proposal without proofreading first

Program officers and other foundation grant reviewers spend a lot of time and effort reading and evaluating each grant application that comes across their desks. Nothing is more distracting than a proposal littered with spelling and grammatical errors. Tip: If you are reusing text that was submitted for another grant application, make sure the appropriate details have been updated. For example, double check to be sure you’re not using the wrong grantmaker’s name in the application.

2. Don’t come to foundation staff with questions before doing your research

It’s okay to ask for more information before you apply, but take advantage of our recently redesigned website, which is chock-full of useful information about CT Health’s strategic goals and objectives, funding strategies, examples of prior grants, research, publications, and so much more. If you still have a question after reviewing the website, feel free to contact me by email at to schedule a call. Also, don’t forget to read our grant FAQs for useful information that might answer your questions!

3. Don’t try to fit a square peg in a round hole when writing your grant proposal

Before you sit down to write your proposal, make sure the project or program you have in mind aligns with the foundation’s goals and proposal guidelines. Don’t waste your time trying to bend, contort, or stretch your proposal in the hopes of “fitting” into the foundation’s objectives. This almost never works, and it tends to be a waste of your time. Instead, take the time to thoroughly research funding opportunities, ask clarifying questions, and develop proposals for funders that are looking to fund the work you do.

4. Don’t submit a budget with fuzzy math

Project budgets should be well-justified, include revenues and expenses, show other sources of funding (both committed and pending), and avoid “double-dipping” in indirect costs and other line items. Most importantly, your budget should add up properly! Being a good steward of the foundation’s financial resources is a hallmark of the grantees we want to work with, so don’t overlook this part of the application process.

5. Don’t use vague or abstract language when writing your proposal

Proposals should be clear, straight-forward, and avoid the use of jargon.  After reading a proposal, foundation staff should have a solid understanding of what you propose to do, why it is important, and how you will use foundation resources to achieve your goals and objectives. Remember, we can’t fund what we don’t understand.

BonUS TIP: Don’t take it personally if we don’t fund your proposal

The foundation receives many more worthwhile proposals than we could ever fund. While, we wish we could fund them all, our limited grantmaking budget requires us to make tough decisions about what projects we believe have the greatest potential for impact, scale, and alignment with our strategic plan and focus areas. If your proposal isn’t funded, commit to staying up-to-date on what the foundation is doing and stay connected to our staff. When the next funding opportunity arises, you’ll be ready.

As always, I welcome questions so please feel free to email me at