In the eighteen years that I have spent raising funds for nonprofits, and especially in my years as a consultant dedicated to writing grants, I have had my share of rejections from grant funders. Feeling like you’ve been in a slump lately toiling your fingers to the bone only to find one disappointment after another? Do not despair!
# 1 Focus on donors who have the same mission as you. Are you really spending enough time researching potential grant funders or just using a machine gun approach and firing up applications, whether you qualify or not? When asked by nonprofits why their grants are not funded, this is the problem I see most often. The nonprofit simply didn’t take the time to research the funder’s interests, their funding restrictions, and general general guidelines. You can save a lot of heartache (as well as time and energy) by targeting only quality leads.
# 2 Follow all grant guidelines to the letter. Believe it: you are forever in competition with other nonprofits for donor money and donors will take every opportunity they can to get rid of apps that can’t even follow simple instructions. You may think it is unfair, but it is the truth. Grant creators are bombarded with applications and it makes it easy for them to remove as many as possible. Do you want to be the first to go to the trash? So please take my advice and follow all instructions provided. Not some. Not most. Everything from them.
# 3 Use concrete evidence to convince donors that your need is a true community issue. You will most likely use a variety of data to back up your claim, just make sure your data collection is well documented. When using Internet search, make sure that the websites you refer to are reliable and up-to-date. If you are using your own assessment, please provide your collection method and explain how the data was collected. When quoting authorities who speak on your subject, document who said it and the source where you found it.
# 4 Include an evaluation component in your proposal. Do you have a solid evaluation plan to measure the success of your proposal? Grant funders want to see that you have a method for collecting data on your project. The data can prove that your proposal exactly met the objective or it can find improvements that need to be made to your program. Don’t be afraid of evaluation – it can be as simple as a small focus group where program participants are asked questions before and after the project. Grant givers simply like to see that you are as involved as they are in the success of the project.
# 5 Ask them why they didn’t get funding. You may be surprised at what you discover. I called once when we were turned down and found that my proposal was actually the one with the highest score. I won’t go into details here, but I was instructed to basically submit the same proposal next year and it would be funded. And went. If he hadn’t called, he could have assumed they would never be interested and the nonprofit would have missed out on a $ 75,000 grant. In this case, your rejection was not a “no”, it was a “not now.” It was simply a matter of time. You can dance around, but I always suggest you call to speak with a program officer about a declined grant.