Do you have sample letters to say "no" to a grant application? - Exponent Philanthropy

Do you have sample letters to say “no” to a grant application?

Foundations vary in how much information they give in a declination letter, but the majority keep the letter very general.

Here is a sample from The Trustee Handbook:

The XYZ Foundation
123 Main Street
Anytown, MO 11223

Dear Mr. Thomas,

The XYZ Foundation appreciated the opportunity to consider your proposal to fund the Clear River Sports League. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide the requested grant. The foundation receives a large number of requests for assistance, and we regretfully have to decline many commendable applications. Our decision in no way indicates a negative assessment of your organization or proposal. It merely speaks to the overwhelming needs of our community and to our desire to respond to them in a balanced and equitable manner.

On behalf of our foundation, we wish you continued success.


Johanna Shaw
Executive Director
The XYZ Foundation

On a case by case basis, you may decide to give more details, especially to those who may have been grantees in the past and/or are likely to be in the future. This is usually kept to a minimum in writing and is best accomplished by telephone. It can be especially helpful to grantseekers if there is some indication of whether they should submit a similar proposal again or not.

It is increasingly common for grantseekers to follow-up with grantmakers once they receive a declination letter. Don’t be surprised (and try not to be bothered) by this. Even if you will not be providing additional information (e.g., “We’d be more interested in a program like X.”), it is important to respond to the calls.

Still have questions?

Members can access staff experts through our Q&A service by calling 202-580-6560, or post a question to the member community to hear form peers in the field.

Explore our Q&A archive