How Long Does It Take to Get a Grant Proposal Approved?

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Grants are not a quick funding solution. It can take over a year to receive one. Funders take quite a long time to make decisions about substantial grants, although sometimes funders will have short funding cycles for particular types of projects. 

You also need to consider the time spent preparing your proposal, finding suitable funders, and cultivating those funders. Many grant writers send grant applications to foundations they've never had contact with. That's a mistake.

Networking with a foundation lays the groundwork for a better grant and a possible approval. Contact can be as simple as a phone call to a program officer to see if there might be interest in your project to making a contact with the foundation staff at a conference. Also, don't overlook the chance that someone on your board or one of your donors knows someone at the foundation.

Although waiting for that first grant approval may seem agonizing, once your grants program is part of your organization's ongoing fundraising efforts, you are likely to have several grants in progress at any given time. So the space between grants will seem shorter.

If you need money more quickly for a project, think about seeking initial funding from other sources, such as individual donors, churches, civic groups, earned income, or your own operating budget. That could get a project off the ground while you get a grant proposal ready, submitted, and approved.

Wait Times Vary Depending on Where You Submit Your Proposal

Depending on the funder, you could receive a letter saying that your application is under review, that it has been rejected, or that it has been approved. 

Here are the basic timeframes for different types of funders, suggested by Beverly A. Browning in her very thorough book, Grant Writing for Dummies.


A wait of three to six months is typical from the date you mailed or electronically submitted your application to a federal agency to find out if the application has been funded. However, the wait can vary from agency to agency.


You can expect a wait of up to six months from the date of submission. For government grants, state or federal, send a copy of the grant application to your elected officials. If you are concerned about the time that has elapsed since applying, you can ask these officials to help you track the application. You might be able to find out if the application is under review.


You may have to wait up to 12 months to find out if your foundation grant proposal was approved. However, you will probably hear something in the interim such as that the review is pending. If you don't hear anything from a foundation about the status of your application after a few weeks, call and ask. It could have been lost or misplaced. It never hurts to check.


It can take up to six months to hear from a corporation. However, you may be notified that the firm has received your application and that it is pending. If you've heard nothing, don't hesitate to follow up after a couple of weeks. At least you can find out if your letter or application is under review.

Sometimes businesses fail to tell you when your grant application has been rejected. Follow up with a phone call if you don't hear anything. On the other hand, when you do hear in the affirmative from the corporation, it might mean the check is in the mail.

Grants can be elusive. But don't wait too long after you've applied for a grant to follow up. Part of being a well-organized grant writer is tracking all of your applications. A grants calendar can be your best friend.