How will you respond if your grant doesn’t get funded? This article offers you a dozen positive options, all of which set you up to get a yes next time.

1.  Call a peer to learn about their experiences. Ask for advice.

2.  Write a list of what you would do differently next time. Adopt three ideas from it.

3.  Admit your organization or idea has been rejected. If you take it personally, and most of us do at some level, admit it. Rejection hurts. Cut yourself some slack.

4.  Recognize your reluctance to learn more is motivated, at least in part, by fear of additional rejection.

5.  If there is a process for such, consider filing a grievance. As a rule, I do not encourage this since I’ve never seen it work as a long-term success strategy. There are exceptions. One includes when your grievance has the potential to help all future applicants, including your organization.

6.  In any case, prepare to contact the donor. Decide a method. Consider: an email, call, or face-to-face meeting (in order from the least to the most courage)

7.  Recognize the donor may be uncomfortable about the “no.” Use your professionalism to help alleviate their fears.

8.  During the conversation, share why you approached them. Ask for help in understanding the response. Then focus on the future. Some possible questions include:

  • What would make the request stronger?
  • Can they suggest other funding resources?
  • Would another project from your organization meet with potential interest? Offer two or three ideas.
  • Is it “okay” to stay in contact?

9.  Follow-up with a handwritten thank-you note

10.  Consider their advice

11.Plan your future

12.  Finally, as Winston Churchill said, “Never, never, never give up.”

For other sources of nonprofit income to augment your grant opportunities, read this article, Can Your Organization Obtain More Income?


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