Learning patterns/Forms with blank responses can be confusing!

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Forms with blank responses can be confusing!
problemSometimes forms are incomplete because applicants and grantees can't answer a question that doesn't apply to them or their situation.
solutionIf you have a good reason for not being able to answer a question, please provide an explanation rather than leaving the question blank.
created on27 June, 2014

What problem does this solve?[edit]

Occasionally, a required question or request on a grant application form or grant report form may apply to most applicants or grantees, but does not apply to every applicant or grantee in every situation. Sometimes applicants and grantees do not provide any responses a question because they have a perfectly good reason not to or because they cannot provide a helpful or informative answer (for example, the question does not apply to them or they are not able to share any information in that area). This can cause confusion, since grants program staff don't know if the form was left unintentionally or intentionally incomplete in this case. It could even result in important forms being considered incomplete, and might require grants program staff to follow up with the applicant or grantee, creating more work for everyone. Plus, it could confuse the Mystery Frog pictured here.

What is the solution?[edit]

If you cannot answer a required question on a grant application form or grant report form, please provide an explanation about why you are not answering the question instead of an answer so that grants program staff know that you have a good reason for not answering it and don't need to bother you about it or worry that your form is not complete.

General considerations[edit]

  • If you are not sure whether a question applies to you are not, it is good to consult grants program staff first so you can get a better understanding of the question. It might be that they can also improve the form or improve the question, so that it is more relevant to future applicants and grantees.
  • If you aren't sure whether you need to answer a question or not and you don't have time to reach out to grants program staff before a due date, it's a good idea to err on the side of answering the question or providing an explanation.
  • Use preview and ask someone to proofread your application or form to make sure it is complete, and that you have answered every question or provided a reasonable explanation about why you can't answer a question.

When to use[edit]

Example question
What went well or didn't go well?
Example answer
We do not have anything to share because there was no activity in this program area during the reporting period.
Example question
How did volunteers contribute to the success of your project?
Example answer
We can't answer this question because no volunteers worked on this project.
Example question
What is your organization's nonprofit status?
Example answer
We aren't a nonprofit organization, so this question does not apply to us.


See also[edit]

Related patterns[edit]

External links[edit]