(The following blog post, part 2 of "Handling a Grant Rejection," was written by Dr. Bev Browning, Vice President of Grants Professional Services for eCivis and the author of more than 40 grant-related publications.) The best way to handle a rejection letter is with your head up, and with a game plan for getting the funding through another source. Here are some more tips on rebounding from rejection.
Read carefully and look for a window of opportunity
Read your rejection letter very closely. Some funders receive more requests than they can fund in a fiscal year, but they often invite promising applicants to reapply after a certain date. Mark your calendar, reconvene the planning group, update your research, and start the rewriting process early enough to meet the next due date. If you didn’t receive a contract award, then you may not receive a letter indicating that the award was given to another company. Contract bid-letting agencies simply don’t notify the failed bidders of their fates. In this scenario, you have to do some investigating. Call, write, visit, and don’t give up!
Play their game and win
Some funders (usually foundation and government agencies) automatically reject grant requests the first and second time that they are submitted. These funders are looking for tenacity. So, revamp your proposal and resubmit it once a year or as often as the funder’s guidelines permit. Don’t be deterred by a rejection letter on the first try.
Track the results of your efforts
Keep an electronic database and a hard-copy database of your grant seeking and grant funding results. Depending on the type of database you choose to maintain, type in or file communications from the funder relating to your application (pending, awarded, or rejected) so you know where you’re hitting the target and where you’re missing the target. Keeping this information updated and organized will help you strategize and plan your next step with each funder.
Reassess and improve your request for the next go-round
Mark your calendar for the next open submission date, and when that date comes around, resubmit a revamped proposal or grant application if you’re trying to win coveted funds from a government agency. If you’re dealing with a corporation or foundation, call or e-mail to make sure you can resubmit a new funding request. Some funding sources accept only one proposal or grant application per year, so you have plenty of time to refresh your proposal.
If your company didn’t receive a contract award, try again each time the bid-letting agency issues a request for proposal (RFP). You may want to consider lowering the pricing in the cost proposal, changing the scope of services, or adding a unique support service to make your contract bid proposal rise above the pack of your competitors.
And be sure to download Dr. Browning's article on "Corporate Grant Seeking 101":