The Problem with Name Dropping

In an application, some grant writers list names from the past and present that are associated with the project. The writer, sometimes with the nonprofit’s encouragement, see the names as important and recognizable.

But are the names important and recognizable to the foundation? Usually not.

Even if a foundation member recognizes a name, they may not think the person was that great. The named person becomes a disadvantage in the application. Also, listing names takes up limited word space. Space that could be used to explain the project.

A list of names does not explain a project. Also, a biography will not help, but only take up more space. Name dropping is not worth the real estate in an application that could be used to provide information and data on the project.

Some nonprofits push name dropping. They believe, “These important people were associated with the project; therefore, the project is great.” The nonprofit puts more importance on names than accomplishments. If that person was so important to the project, why don’t they or their ancestors help raise money?

Another disadvantage of name dropping is that foundations could view it as trying to influence them. Influence needs to be carefully considered and it is rarely done well. Do you like to be influenced?

The only positive view to name dropping is when the grant writer lists current people who expressed support in the project and have done something. Such as a mayor or a council person. The title and position become important.

In a grant application, this is not a time to rely on the dead, their ancestors, or those alive who might not remember or have the resources for the project. A grant application is about the future, not the past.

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