The Art of Refusal: The Experiences of Grant Makers and Grant Seekers

Jenny Harrow, Jon Fitzmaurice, Tom McKenzie , Mariana Bogdanova

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


This research project explores the communications’ experiences and practices of
selected grant making and grant seeking organisations, at the point of grant refusal. It was funded by the Charities Aid Foundation, and undertaken through collaboration with the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF).
The research context is the enhanced competition for funding in which many grant seeking organisations experience the disappointment of refusal; whilst grant makers also face multiple pressures, in responding to grant seekers’ needs. This is an operating environment in which subsequent organisational learning appears demanding.
The aims of the research were to:
- Increase understanding of the communications demands, challenges and
opportunities in giving, receiving and sharing news of grant refusal
- Identify opportunities for organisational learning in these situations, for grant
makers and grant seekers
- Contribute to future practice improvement and development, by drawing on
the reported experiences and practices of participating respondents.

The research focuses on private, formal grant makers (foundations and trusts); and their grant seeking organisational constituencies. It excludes study of public grant makers’ grant refusal processes and those of individuals making personal gifts, direct businesses’ grant making, and grant making by community foundations and by other operating and fundraising charities. A staged research process began in 2008, and field research completed in 2009/2011.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherCharities Aid Foundation
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • grantmaking
  • charities
  • community


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