Trust Your Gut

Many grantmakers sensed trouble even in the absence of clear warning signs, describing “nagging feelings, uneasiness, or a sense of foreboding.” In most cases, the nagging feelings were followed not by program or organizational problems — but by conflicts over strategy or values.

One grantmaker couldn’t square a grantee’s professional profile with the intended strategy of the grant. It occurred to her, but only as a passing thought, that the grantseeker was in some ways an implausible candidate to run a sex-education program. The grantee had been trained in the old school of social work and, more troubling, seemed professionally close to an old-school public health bureaucrat known as “Mr. Anti-Condom.” Yet the grantee had designed a good, evidence-based program, was eager to learn, and fully endorsed the funder’s agenda. When the grantee later published a lengthy abstinence-only editorial, written by Mr. Anti-Condom himself, in its newsletter for public health educators, the grantmaker recalled her first nagging impression.

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by GrantCraft using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from When Projects Flounder.