Giving Compass' Take:

• Vu Le has some fun with the answers to grant proposals on his blog Nonprofit AF, imagining what truly honest answers from potential grantees would look like if decorum wasn't an issue.

• This highlights the need for more honesty in the grantmaker-grantee relationship. We may not need to be so blunt, but it shouldn't be so difficult to express the challenges that nonprofits often face.

• Here's more on how we can overcome the overhead myth, for starters.

  • What is innovative about your program design? “Our program is entirely innovative. The design is unproven; the approach is untested; the outcomes are unknown. We also have a tried-and-true service delivery model with outstanding results and a solid evidence base to support it. But you funded that last year and your priority is to fund innovative projects. So we made this one up. Please send money.”
  • What is your overhead rate? “It is too low. We systematically under-invest in human resources, financial management, and program management to keep it that way. By doing so, we have a nice, low overhead number to put on grant applications like this one. Please send money.”
  • How will you sustain this program after this grant runs out? We will leave you alone and harass other people, continuing to spend half our time trying to convince other foundations that our programs and communities are worth being supported, instead of running and improving the programs that our communities desperately need. Then, after a year or so, when hopefully you forgot that we applied earlier, we’ll reapply to your foundation. Please send money.
  • What is the leadership structure of your organization? Because of understaffing, our ED is trying to handle too many things all at once and is thus not very competent at any of them. Our board actively undermines or micromanages the staff. The person who is actually holding this whole thing together is our Operations Director Lydia, but she’s being laid off because no one wants to fund operations or admin or fundraising. Please send money so we can buy Lydia a cake.
  • What are other sources of potential funding for this project? Here below are a bunch of other foundations we are applying to. We are not very confident in many of them, but we figure that the more names we list, the better it makes us look. Some of the foundations won’t invest until other foundations make a first move. Please be the one to stop this game of “funding-chicken” by sending money first.

Read the full article about honest answers to grant proposals by Vu Le at Nonprofit AF.