The acceptance

by Colby Martin

This was the letter you were looking for. On behalf of… (and you skip ahead), it is my pleasure to inform you (yes, yes), has been recommended to receive a grant from… but then you skip to the part that has the dollar signs and pay careful attention to the numbers that accompany it. I would bet all the sentences that come after are not read as carefully or as many times as that first paragraph.

I know, because I was guilty of it. Multiple times. Before I was with the Foundation, I was a grant writer for a small school system, so I can relate. Was I awarded what I asked for? Is it more (yes, this does happen from time to time)? Is it less? Is it a shock, like when it was for a proposal that was written and I thought for sure would be denied.

In any case, you’ve got the grant you were hoping for. You print that puppy out, although you’re not sure why once it’s hot in your hands because you can’t deposit it in the bank like actual money. So instead you file it away in the win column then you go tell whomever needs to know what great news you got that Friday afternoon.

Then with a breath of relief and well-deserved cup of coffee (you probably sprung for the latte), you look at what you wrote, wondering if there was a key phrase that you think may have won you the grant. Perhaps there’s a string of sentences that proved the community needs so beautifully you might copy and paste to another application that’s sitting on your desktop? (Not a bad move, by the way) But then you realize something in the activities and timeline section that wills a moment of fear into your capillaries.

I said we’d do what?!?

Yep, that’s the moment when you transition from a grant writer to a grant doer. Those are all the sentences that proceed the dollar sign. But that’s what you’re there for and God bless you for it! Because without the second part, the first one would be pointless.

Somewhere along the line, I realized it was called a grant proposal for a reason. I was simply summarizing the organization’s history, strengths and linking that with an opportunity to address need. The impact of the project is a guess, but it’s one that a donor is willing to invest in when you receive that blessed letter of acceptance.

That’s their end of the bargain. What’s yours? Can you accomplish what you set out to do? Someone thinks you can.

Maybe we need to think about acceptance letters differently, then. In every contract, someone must sign it first. It can’t really be done simultaneously. Maybe the acceptance letter to the nonprofit is a counterproposal from a donor.

So, the question then becomes: Do you accept?