A colleague called me the other day, distraught on her fifth rejection letter from a foundation. The program is wonderful, she said, and she only applied to foundations with a past history of giving to her organization. Imagine her surprise when I assured her this was good news.
What? Was I even listening to her?
Let me explain. Rejection can be a good thing for a grant professional, because it allows for self analysis and internal review. Some of the questions my colleague could ask herself (and her team members) are:
1. Did we follow guidelines and include all required attachments? Believe it or not, this happens all the time!
2. Did we include sufficient program information including a plan for outcome measurement and a timeline for activities? Proposals for new programs are especially prone to this mistake.
3. Did we explain the need and justify the program? So many grant professionals seem to think that the funder already has intimate knowledge about the need... why would they? That's what the grant professional is there for.
4. Did we prove financial stability and ability to sustain our programs? This can be verrrry tricky! Nonprofit does not mean no profit!
5. Did we discuss how we work together with other organizations in the community? Do we even do so? Do we have partners or work alone?
A review of the submitted proposal and other pertinent information can oftentimes open your eyes and it becomes abundantly clear why the proposal was rejected. Are you brave enough?