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You Can't Win Them All

Updated: Feb 18, 2020

Monday, November 13th was a roller coaster ride for us at Jelly Nonprofit Consulting. We had an amazing high and disappointing low. The first thing Monday morning, we announced winning a $100,000 grant award from the San Angelo Area Foundation to benefit La Esperanza Clinic in San Angelo, TX. The funds will be used to build a wellness and fitness center addition to their 31st Street Clinic. This will enhance their already existing services to the medically underserved. The fitness center will encompass a gym and classroom. The facility will be approximately 5,000 to 6,000 square feet. This facility will assist patients in incorporating physical fitness into their lifestyle to increase health benefits and decrease health deficits.

La Esperanza Clinic is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). The mission of La Esperanza Clinic is to provide quality primary and preventive health and dental care services to all people, particularly the medically underserved of San Angelo and the Concho Valley. Their primary target population includes low-income, indigent, uninsured, and under-insured individuals. Visit their website here:

As you can imagine, obtaining funding for this amazing and life-saving nonprofit was a great! Then, after noon, I get a phone call no grant writer likes to get. Another client learned they did not win a grant award for $100,000 and they called to let me know. It truly feels like a punch in the gut. This is a worthy nonprofit also doing life-saving work with a focus on youth. The proposal was well-written and highlighted their amazing work and need for financial support to grow.

Guess why we did not get the funds? They informed the board president they do not fund "land acquisition". It came as a surprise to me. Their criteria did not list this. The nonprofit did their research and also had a personal contact. I reviewed the criteria. It was not stated anywhere. This hit feels like a personal blow. This is a great nonprofit and I have faith in their good work.

So here is the next question. What do we learn from here? I hate remembering this lesson too late, which I learned a long time ago. ALWAYS contact the grant funder, when possible, before you apply! You will learn much more than what the website might offer. Even if the nonprofit representatives had personal conversations with their contact related to the funding source, the grant writer should make it a point to speak directly with the funder.

The incentives to reaching out personally include allowing the funder to get to know you, your nonprofit, and your financial needs. It will may possibly save you time and money if you learn very early on that your request is not the proper match. Of course, there are times you may not be able to or permitted to contact them before applying, but if you find a contact name and person, don't hesitate to reach out. Most funders appreciate the extra step you are taking.

I wish grant funding was guaranteed, but the reality is that it is not. A good and honest grant writer will admit this, too. In the wise words of a mentor of mine, "It's called happy hunting for a reason. You will not win every one, otherwise it would be called happy getting." You can't win them all, but don't be discouraged! Learn and grow.

Keep moving forward!

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