Grants 101: Grant Rejection… Now What?

April 1, 2019 – AWE Learning Staff

Finding the right grant opportunity to apply to can be challenging. Even when you think you applied to the one that is sure to fund your project, rejections do occur. There is only so much funding available for foundations to provide to applicants.

What steps should I take if my proposal is rejected by a foundation?

Have you received a rejection on a grant application you submitted? This can certainly be a disappointment, not just to the project but to the amount of time you put into writing a request. The fact is hundreds of grants are rejected all the time. With a finite amount of funds available, foundations are limited to the number of applications they can award annually. Not every grant request will make the cut, most of the time it’s due to volume and priority; in other cases, your project may be missing some key components the funder is seeking.

There are many ways you can move forward from here. Your first step, if possible, is to get feedback from the foundation. Unless a foundation specifically notes that they don’t give feedback, contacting them to find out how to improve your proposal for future submissions is very beneficial. If applicable, contact the Program Officer and ask the following questions:

  • What is your overall assessment of our proposal?
  • Does the review board show interest in our idea?
  • What options do we have moving forward? Can we apply again in the next funding round?

Not only does seeking feedback allow you to improve your proposal, but it also establishes a connection with a funder that you might want to re-apply to. You will most likely have to wait until the next grant cycle; you will at least be on their radar.

Take into consideration any feedback relating to improving your proposal; most importantly don’t discard what you have. Depending on what you are told regarding the board’s interest in the idea, you will want to keep the backbone of your application, and simply make improvements where advised. If you want to take your proposal elsewhere, use the previous funder’s critique as a basis for a fresh take on your application. The same is true for re-submitting to the same foundation that rejected your initial proposal.

While being rejected from a funding proposal is frustrating, there are plenty of other opportunities out there. When resuming your grant application process, don’t forget:

  1. Make changes to your proposal and re-submit to the same organization if possible.
  2. Identify other funding sources to apply.
  3. Don’t give up! It might take time, and sometimes longer than you hoped for – you will find the right foundation to fund your project!

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