Whether you write your grant application yourself, or you pay a professional to do it for you, it’s quite possible your application will be rejected. In fact, it’s inevitable that if you are regularly applying for grant, you’ll receive a rejection. In many cases, winning is the exception, not the rule.
Make sure you go into the grant writing process with realistic expectations. A fabulous idea (and even a perfectly formed application) does not always guarantee success.
So, before you blast your grant writer or vow to never write another grant again, there are a number of valid reasons your application may not have hit the mark.
Why Didn’t We Win?
1. Limited odds: most grants only have a success rate of 10-20% – so, no matter how good your application is, the odds are stacked against you. When you put in for a grant next time, find out the applicant success rate. If it’s less than 20%, you might want to consider if it’s really worth the investment of time and money.
2. Your project has limited scope – it may be too narrow with little benefit to the wider community, or maybe too broad.
3. Your business doesn’t a have strong enough track record yet.
4. There’s a weakness in the project’s design – it may be over-ambitious, lacking objectives, too high-risk, or lacking a strong enough team.
5. You didn’t have enough stakeholder engagement or professional mentoring.
6. Your financial documentation wasn’t robust enough.
What To Do Next
If you do get rejected, don’t give up – use it as a learning opportunity. Pay attention to the reviewer’s comments and act on them.
Call the funding provider to get more information. Ask them what you could have done differently, if you can resubmit the application for the next round, and if they can suggest any other funders who might be interested in your project.
Making contact can help develop a relationship with the funding body. This can be really helpful if reapplying later on down the track.
The Silver Lining
We recently had a client in this exact situation. We worked with them to craft an incredibly last-minute application to a hotly contested UK grant fund for a concept they had been contemplating. They decided to risk submitting an application and ‘see what happened’.
Although they missed out, the fund provided very specific independent feedback. The assessors had legitimate concerns about some aspects of the business model. Interestingly, the client’s project ranking was very high (74.5%) and projects with a 70% score had received funding in previous rounds. This feedback allowed the applicant to revisit their business model and strengthen it before reapplying.
Don’t Give Up
Taking all of this into consideration, grant writing requires a lot of perseverance. If you’re willing to learn from your grant rejection and act on feedback, you will be in an even better position next time, and increase your chances of future success.
If you need funds for a project, BlueSalt Consulting offers a professional grant writing service or we can review your grant application. We would love to help you increase your chances of success!
A version of this blog post first appeared on Anna Dixon Consulting’s website, our previous brand.