No news is bad news!

Two weeks, one month, 6 months, one year and still no answer if the proposal has been approved or the money will come in. Sounds familiar?

Did you ever feel this way after submitting your proposal to a potential donor or an interested party? I am not sure what is the ethics behind the donor or funder's role upon receiving a proposal but I for sure know that a proposal sent from a nonprofit organisation is a proposal with an expectation to receive an acknowledgement of receipt as well as information of the outcome (good or bad news).

I am not sure why nonprofit organisations have to wait for months and sometimes over a year for something to happen. Remember! as much as time is money to the company or donor, time is also loss of serious or urgent help on the ground which could translate to lives, hunger, loss of jobs etc.

Remaining silent as if to avoid the nonprofit ask does not portray professionalism. Donor's or funders must recognise that to write a proposal is not about cut and paste  (although I do know that happens as well) as there is a lot ding-dong between potential funder and nonprofit, extensive discussions, meetings, reviews and approvals at the Board level even before the proposal is sent out.

Unless something is so significantly flawed in the proposal then I find it a wonder to think that if someone has the money and the clear need to do something and there is a proposal ready to be implemented, why does it take so long?

I think there is perhaps a level of insufficient talent in the funding organisations who know what they want from the nonprofit or for that matter know how to guide or picking out the better proposals from the great proposals. To make sound decisions the person or committee must have prior knowledge or broad experience on the subject matter and how to manage projects of a certain magnitude.

I guess this is why most companies these days are taking on ex-non profiteers with significant experience to sit in the committee or to lead or even project manage the projects on the ground on behalf of them.

At the end of the day, the nonprofit sector take a lot of trouble to prepare the proposal. A lot of their resources which involves time, money and human capacity is involved in putting together something that would fit to the requirements set out. So to completely keep them hanging with no apparent idea of what the outcome is rather distasteful.

After all, when the request for a proposal is asked, the next thing the funder says is that they would want the proposal asap or yesterday but when the proposal is sent, the waiting time does not fit proportionately with the urgency for the proposal. It appears suddenly the asap or urgency suddenly vanished! 

I really want to see more guidelines from the donor or funder in terms of what their commitment is to the nonprofit when it comes to giving an answer within time and with clear reasons behind the delay. I know things can be expedited rapidly. It can happen, we saw how fast money got spent with, no proposals for the Typhoon Haiyan, Floods in Kelantan, and the recent Nepali Earthquake.

Dr. Sudeep Mohandas is the Managing Director of I First International (IFI). At IFI our mission is ensure the nonprofit sector is able to enjoy and afford the benefits and top quality professional consultative services, thereby being able to scale up their impact on the ground. We focus on the Management the Board. We help you help others.