Grant Application Slip-Ups: Tiny Mistakes That Can Cost You Funding

July 11, 2024
min read

Imagine losing a funding opportunity because you didn't cross your T's and dot your I's. Painful and heartbreaking, isn't it? As a new founder, you're eager to chase grant funding opportunities for your impactful project idea. But in the frenzy of excitement, it's easy to overlook crucial details.

Grant funding is highly competitive. Even with a brilliant idea, a solid team, and a clear vision, tiny mistakes can lead to rejection. In this post, we'll share some common mistakes that new founders like you might make out of ignorance, and how to avoid them.

1. Little Typos and Grammar Errors

Remember what a tiny drop of oil does to a clean surface? Similarly, simple spelling mistakes or grammatical errors can put a permanent dent in your proposal. Too many typos can derail your proposal and confuse the reviewers.

For example, mistaking "peels" for "pills" in a health grant application could be disastrous. Even small errors like writing "teh" instead of "the" can make a poor impression.

Tips to avoid this mistake:

  • Take breaks and return to your application with fresh eyes.
  • Use grammar and spell-check tools.
  • Get a professional to review your application.

2. Lack of Connection Between Problem and Solution

Never assume the funders should automatically understand the link between your stated problem and proposed solution. Leaving reviewers to connect the dots in your application is a grave mistake.

For instance, simply stating, "We've identified the problem of dirty fabrics and our proposed solution is a detergent," leaves many questions unanswered. How exactly does your detergent solve the problem?

Tips to avoid this mistake:

  • Use clear and simple terms to describe how your solution addresses the problem.
  • Make it easy for reviewers to understand your vision and why it matters.
  • Use examples, analogies, or case studies for clarity.
  • Ensure your solution aligns with the funding agency's priorities.

3. Vague, Wild-Guessed Budget

Submitting a vague budget makes reviewers question your readiness and ability to use their funds judiciously. Simply putting "equipment $10,000" without any details is insufficient.

Tips to avoid this mistake:

  • Show reviewers exactly how you will use the grant funding.
  • Break down your budget items into specific categories.
  • Provide detailed descriptions of each item.
  • Use realistic estimates based on research.
  • Stay within the funder's specified budget range.

4. Missing or False Document Drama

Submitting an application without all required documents or using irrelevant documents as substitutes is a critical error. This often happens when founders realize at the last minute that they're missing necessary paperwork.

Tips to avoid this mistake:

  • Create a checklist of all required documents before starting your application.
  • Gather all necessary documents and certifications well in advance.
  • Ensure all documents are up-to-date and verifiable.
  • Have a backup plan in case you encounter issues.

5. Communication Chaos or Lack of Decorum in Tone

Using the wrong tone in your application can be as jarring as using "Dr." instead of "Prof." for a Nigerian professor. Addressing funders or reviewers too casually can sink your application.

Tips to avoid this mistake:

  • Use a professional email address (e.g.,, not
  • Avoid slang, jargon, and overly casual language.
  • Use real names instead of nicknames in the application (brand names can be anything).

6. Lack of Future Plans

Grant opportunities that don't directly ask about sustainability can trap new founders. An application with no clear path to sustainability and scalability suggests you have no plans to grow and make a long-term difference.

Tips to avoid this mistake:

  • Show reviewers that you're thinking big.
  • Discuss your long-term vision and goals whenever possible.
  • Outline plans to scale up your project post-funding.


Missing a grant opportunity as a new founder is painful, especially when it's due to something as small as a typo. Everything matters in a grant application, and tiny mistakes can make a big difference.

Don't let these small errors hold you back from winning your first grant. Follow this three-step guide to success:

1. Read "6 Essential Tips for African New Founders to Win Grants"

2. Adopt the practical steps outlined in this blog post.

3. Review your application thoroughly before submission.

With careful attention to detail and thorough preparation, you'll be well on your way to securing that crucial funding for your project. Good luck!

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