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They Said 'No' So Now What?

Updated: Feb 18, 2020

You have an outstanding program. You find a potential funder. You write a solid grant proposal. After your preparation and hard work, you submit your proposal. A few weeks pass and you get a letter from the funder. You excitedly open it and hope you get news that your nonprofit won the grant. The letter starts with, "Thank you for your grant application. While you certainly have a worthy cause, we are sorry to inform you that we will not be able to fund your program." Awwww snap - it's not the news you wanted.

While it is unfortunate, rejection is part of the grant application process. It's important to take the response at face value. Various reasons for rejection include the following: they are limited on funds for this award cycle, your program doesn't quite fit the criteria although you did some research, or you didn't follow all of the application directions correctly.

Rejection is not personal or proof your nonprofit is unworthy. Although we receive a rejection, we still have to offer a genuine and grateful thank you letter/email. It's an opportunity for growth and maintaining a connection with the funding source.

The thank you letter should begin with a sincere thank you for their review. Then, remind them of your worthy cause. Finally, ask them if there are ways we can strengthen our proposal for the next time you apply. If you are inclined to do so, you can always invite them out to see your program in action so they see firsthand the amazing and unique work you are doing. Close with another sincere thank you and let them know you are available for questions.

It is in my experience that this is a critical step in the process. They remember you and your classy, positive response.

Here are some helpful links.

Remember, we have to stay positive and keep charging forward!

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