What Your Competitors Do With A Denied Grant Application

What Your Competitors Do With A Denied Grant Application


You’ve just received word that your grant application has been denied. After long hours dedicated to strategy, budgets, narratives, charts, tables, partners, and more, receiving a grant denial may leave you  feeling like you never, ever, ever want to apply for another grant – ever – again. You may want to forget about your ideas, your project and your hopes. But that isn’t what your competitors are going to do! 

What are your competitors going to do with their denial? They are going to seize it for all its worth! They are going to see this denial not as a failure but as a stepping stone to success.  Your competitors are going to take these steps to move forward in their grant seeking success:


First Step – Your Competitors Contact the Grant Maker

1) Show Gratitude  

  • They are thanking the grant making organization, the reviewer and the decision makers for investing their time in reviewing the denied proposal.
  • They are genuine and proactive in letting the grant maker know that they understand how competitive the grant process is and what a difficult task it is to distribute limited funds when the community needs are so great.
  • They congratulate the winners. If the funder posts the awards on social media, the denied applicant is a good sport.  They follow congratulate and follow the grantees on social networks.

2) Ask for Feedback 

  • They tell the grant maker that they are seeking feedback on their denied application and project design to identify weakness and strengths.
  • They do not to accept ‘we just didn’t have enough money’ as a complete answer. Although that statement might be true, they know someone was funded and those funded organizations did something different that got the funder’s attention and their money.
  • They ask the grant maker if there are comments from the reviewers that can be shared. If the grant is scored, as with federal grants, they ask for a step-by-step score.  Your competitors ask what they could do to make their denied application stronger for other grant makers and or for this grant maker’s next round of funding. (NOTE: A grant application review is helpful for both denied applications and approved applications.)

Second Step – Your Competitors Contact Partners and Decision Makers

1) Show Gratitude  

  • They are thanking the partners, policy-makers, and all of the good people who invested their time and energy – and their hopes – into the grant application for their contributions and support.

2) Get Real 

  • They are genuine and proactive in letting the partners, policy-makers, decision-makers, and others know that they didn’t receive funding.
  • They are transparent with the feedback received from the grant-making agency about the reason(s) for denial.

3) Make the Plan, Work the Plan.

  • They contact the applicants that received the award to get feedback on how to best present their ideas to the grant maker and to get any other insights on securing funding.
  • They put the grant-makers and the grant awardees feedback and suggestions into action by engaging policy-makers, partners and community to address any weaknesses in project design.
  • They start new grant drafts, identify other grant opportunities and they apply and reapply – armed, each time, with a stronger application.

So, what do your competitors do with a grant that is denied – they build it into a great success!The Competitive Advantage of Grant Denials

What suggestions do you have for handling a grant denial? How have grant makers responded to your requests for feedback on a grant application that has been denied? Please share your comments, tips, and links to blog posts on handling a grant denial in our comment section below. You can also share comments and tips using the hashtag #grantchat on most social media platforms.



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