Blog: Should I return the foundation grant?

Maureen Ryan, Founder and CEOYou’ve gotten a grant from a foundation to support your program. Fantastic! But it’s only one of two grants you submitted in support of the same program – each of the two foundations was going to cover 50% of the total program costs. You’ve been waiting to hear from the second foundation and after months of waiting, still no response to your inquiries. Time to implement the program is slipping away based on the timeline you presented to both foundations. You are anxious to get the program underway, but with only half of the needed funding on hand, you can’t fulfill even the start-up of the program. 

What next? 

Relax. Foundations aren’t going to get mad at you because you haven’t spent the grant money and demand you return it. Reach out to the foundation that gave you the first half of the funding and explain the situation. Tell them that their funding was being used to leverage grant funds from the other foundation and that your organization wants/needs both foundations as financial supporters of the program. Tell them you are actively reaching out to the other foundation to confirm their support and that you would like to adjust the grant award timeline to delay implementation for an additional few months to ensure that both grants are in hand. In most cases, a foundation gave you that grant because they were confident in your organization and the program you proposed, so they will be open to your explanation and recommendation to still use the grant award, but on a delayed timeline. 

Foundations are about relationships. Respect that relationship and you’ll be ahead of the game for future funding.