Monday, October 22, 2007

Yes, Apply Again for the Grant that You Did Not Receive! Why? Read On...

I have been there. Anyone who has spent time writing and submitting grant proposals has. Don't feel badly, misunderstood, judged harshly, or personally rejected. We all submit grant proposals that do not get funding.

The reason why you should research so well who your organization has the greatest chance of receiving funding from, is that your organization is not going to receive a grant from every grant proposal that you submit (even if they're perfect applications). If though, you've done your research and are applying only to those grant donors your organization is truly likely to receive grants from - in total, you'll receive more grants in response to your requests, and you'll submit less applications (less work!). By the way, this is how grant writers who are (honestly) really good at what they do can guarantee a certain amount of success in getting your organization grants. The thing about this is ferreting out who is telling you the truth, and who is not!

How do you research potential grant donors well? See my following posts:

The Grant Writer's Little Helper: IRS Tax Form 990 Post 1 of 2

The Grant Writer's Little Helper: IRS Tax Form 990 Post 2 of 2

How Many Grants Should We Apply For?

Top 10 Grant Writing Tools

Easy Resources for the Grant Writer

The Declined Grant Request

How Do I Prepare to Find Foundations Who Will Fund Us?

The above posts are really important reading if you're new to grant writing. If you spin your wheels applying to everyone and anyone for everything that your organization needs grant support for, you're waisting agency resources, waisting time, and demonstrating to potential donors that you don't know what you're doing.

If you submitted a really good grant proposal to a potential donor and they went through their entire grant consideration process with it, but then declined your request at the end; that is actually really important for you to note. If they received your letter of inquiry, responded to it by inviting you to apply for a grant, then they notified you that your grant request was under review after receiving it, and then declined it; this indicates that they were both interested in your organization and your proposed use of their donation. You must submit another grant request as soon as they allow applicants who are declined to do so. Some organizations limit applications to once a year, or only limit those applicants who receive funding. Check the giving guidelines for each grant donor that you apply to, to find out what your potential grant donor requires.

If you've submitted an excellent grant proposal, it was rejected, and you aren't sure why; call the grant donor and ask. IF they state that they do not want phone calls, then do not call them. Otherwise, call and ask. Why? First, they will look up your application and tell you why it was declined and they tell you specifically what you need to do when you reapply to them to be successful. Second, it creates dialogue between you and the grant donor and if there was an error on their part - they might give the grant to you, after all. This is unusual - but I've heard of it happening. Lastly, any dialogue with potential donors is good - it can lead to a relationship, which is the key to successful fundraising.

You must resubmit to the grant donors who decline your applications because some organizations want to see your group apply more than once (some, even want to see three applications before they'll consider donating a grant to a non profit). Why do they do this? First, it gives them time. Perhaps they want to talk to colleagues in your community about your group. (And this is why you want to be working a strong public relations and marketing campaign - you want to control your organization's message. Do not let someone else do it!) Second, it allows them to see that your staff can follow through, can commit, and can also operate well (you've asked for grants, in the past, didn't receive them, and you knew how to go about getting that funding that you needed, despite not receiving theirs').

Once you've received a grant from this kind of grant donor - you've established your organization with them; and having grant donor be familiar with your organization is the ultimate goal, here. Why? Because you can return to them again, and again, in the future with a higher likelihood of receiving a grant. Maintain that relationship over the years, in a manner that is effective but not overbearing or annoying!! It will be like an asset in the bank.

Once I applied to a well known foundation, during it's start, who declined a beautiful grant proposal. I called, spoke with the programs officer who managed our application, and she shared with me (very honestly) that they had received so many applications, that they weren't prepared for it. She said, 'honestly - we dropped the ball, here. Looking at your application - it's great. Please apply, again!'

Grants are not declined because you are a sloppy dresser, or because your organization's name isn't good enough, or because the stars were not properly aligned. Really. The reason that grants are not donated vary. Finding out why your proposal was declined gives you more ammo for the next time you apply.

Do not get discouraged. Do not. This is the kiss of death for your grant writing. Instead, take it in stride, expect this as a part of the grant process, and realize that while you may not have received a grant from them today, if you've done your homework (see my posts, above) you probably really will in the future.

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