Measuring Grant Success

Measuring Grant Success

How Do You Measure the Success of a Grant Professional?


What does it take to be successful as a Grant Professional? How do organizations hire and evaluate grant professionals? We put this topic to the Grantchat community and – of course – it was a great success!


Why are award rates so low now?

Grant success rates vary by industry and by type of grant, such as community development, education, technical studies and family foundations.

(Grant geek – numbers and acronym alert  – next paragraph) 

The National Institute of Health success rate report shows a drop in the  percent of applicants successfully receiving award went from 30% to 17% in the past decade. Remember, that number is an average with some grant programs coming in at a 2% average success rate. For the NIH Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants the rates have dropped from 28.5% in 2008 to 16.3% in 2013. What does that really mean? For one SBIR grant program in 2013, there were 3,738 applications and only 495 (13.2%) received a grant.


Grantors are funding a smaller percent of applications for two main reasons:

  1.  Reductions in funds available, and
  2.  Increase in the number of organizations applying.

Your application must be in the top 10-20% to compete. While some elements of the grant application are out of the control of the grant seeker, many factors that contribute to grant denials are ‘user error.’

Inadequate pre-planning for program design and proposal preparation combined with shrinking appropriations create fierce competition. ~ Susan Perri, MBA

Too many proposals are submitted without the “3 R’s”: Research, Relationships and wRiting.~ Diane H. Leonard, GPC

Our Grant Application was Denied! Did our Grant Professional fail?

You can submit a brilliant grant application that meets the funders guidelines and goals, but still be denied funding.

Our profession has moved away from a Pass/Fail scorecard to an entire grade-book of success metrics. ~ Becky Jascoviak, MBA

In most cases, grant professionals create a product that is similar to a business plan. Most grant applications that are scored. The grant reviewer will usually offer excellent feedback as to the quality of the grant application, your program plan, and what you need to do to increase your odds of securing funding in the next round.

Competition for grants is fierce. In part, that is why the Grants Professional Association and the Grant Professionals Certification Institute are needed and thriving. They both provide structure, professional development and oversight for a growing profession.


How do You Measure a Grant Professional’s Success?

Perceptive, calculating organizations have begun to realize what they need to do to aggressively compete for grants. In these organizations, grant professionals are seen as strategic planners who are essential to the mission, rather than ‘just writers.’ The pass/fail success performance analysis puts an organization at jeopardy as it provides incentives to throw the proverbial spaghetti at the wall and does not take into account or invest in the full life cycle of a grant.

Measuring grant success beyond the grant award encourages organization and program stability through multiple accountability measures. These measures can include contributions to strategic planning, relationship building, project management, researching opportunities, and developing grants planning and management capacity within the organization.

The Grants Professionals Certification Institute (GPCI) documents and measures the Grant Professional’s competency and skills in the grants profession. As you look to develop your job descriptions, RFPs for consultants and/or Performance Reviews for grant professionals this list of competencies and this list can be excellent guides.


What do you think? How do you measure grant success?  Do you have a great performance review or job description that you believe should serve as a best practice model? Please share it and leave your comments and suggestions below. We would love to hear from you!



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