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How to politely decline a grant award

Women handing a check
How to Politely decline a grant award

When you receive a grant award that is lower than the amount requested, it's important to carefully consider your next steps. While declining the funding may sometimes be the best option, it's not always necessary. Our article, What to do if the grant amount is lower than the grant request?” gives a few reasons why you should accept the grant anyway.

You should consider declining the funding if the amount awarded is significantly lower than what you requested and you don't have other funding sources for the program. For example, you asked for $200,000, and they are awarding $15,000, and you do not have other funding sources for the program.

 It's also important to consider the cost of grant reporting (how many reports, how often, when) and the cost of your organization’s internal grant management to ensure expenses don’t exceed  10% of the grant award. You can figure this out by estimating how much time should be allotted for these activities, and the dollar value for the people who will complete these activities, including people who implement the program. 

We recommend declining when:

  1. The grant management costs (financial and performance reporting) exceed 10% of the total budget.

  2. You will not be able to conduct any part of your program with the funding provided.

  3. You have no other sources of funding for the program and need a plan to seek other grant funds.

Declining a grant is a big decision. If in doubt, please consult with your project team, executive leadership, or Board of Directors.

If you decide to decline the grant, it's crucial to communicate your decision respectfully. You can express your gratitude for the award and explain that the amount awarded wouldn't allow you to successfully conduct the program.

You may also express your interest in exploring other opportunities for collaboration in the future.

Here is how you may go about it:

"Hi ABC Funder,

We are very excited we were selected for a $15,000 grant award. After careful consideration, we must decline. Since our submitted budget was $200,000, we would not be able to conduct the program successfully with that amount of funding at this time.

We want to continue to speak with you to see if there are other opportunities for us to collaborate in the future.

Could we schedule a time to talk with you more?"


“Hello ABC Funder,

We are grateful for being chosen for the $15,000 grant award. However, after thorough consideration, we must regretfully decline. Our proposed budget for the program was $200,000, and we believe that with the current funding, we would face challenges in successfully executing the program. Nevertheless, we are eager to explore alternative ways to collaborate in the future. 

Would it be possible to schedule a meeting to discuss potential future opportunities for partnership?”


At SGR, we are experienced in helping our health center partners win grant awards and renegotiate their work plan if they receive a lower amount. However, we are also here to advise when the opportunity is no longer a great fit due to the funding amount. If you are interested in partnering with us for your pre-award grant writing needs, please take our brief survey.

We are here to support you and ensure that you can make the most of every funding opportunity.

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