5 Reasons Why Your Grant Application Is Rejected

You spent hours drafting a needs statement, calculating a meticulous budget, and following the appropriate timelines. Unfortunately, sometimes that is still not enough to receive funding and all that you are left with is the dreaded rejection letter.

Having a funding proposal rejected is not uncommon. The best thing to do is review your grant proposal with the following issues in mind to see where improvements can be made for the next application.


  1. Your Project Didn’t Match the Grant

When applying for a grant, you have two general options: you either choose a grant that matches your proposal idea very closely, or you model your proposal to fit the funder’s mission and interests. However, if you do not take the time to read the requirements in detail, you may submit a proposal that does not match the purpose of the grant. This does not mean that you need to find a grant that matches your proposal perfectly; it means that you might have to get creative with your proposal description to bring it closer to the funder’s priorities and requirements. It is helpful to review previously funded projects to determine if your project would be of interest to the funder.

To find grants that match your needs, use the advanced search tool on GetEdFunding.com. It will help you refine your search to ensure results are most relevant to your needs.


  1. You Didn’t Build a Relationship

If you didn’t reach out to the funder in an effort to get to know them before submitting your application, you may have missed out on an opportunity to get your project noticed. Like other fundraising methods, grants rely on relationships. To learn more about how to cultivate successful relationships, read Six Ways to Nurture Relationships with Donors.

If you don’t know the funder, invest effort in getting to know them. Visit their website and social media pages (such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter) to learn about the people involved with making the grant. Once you’ve conducted research, reach out and start a discussion. Don’t be shy—get them interested in the project before you create an application.

If this seems difficult, start local by reaching out to a community foundation, whose mission is to support projects that will make a difference in their community.


  1. You Didn’t Follow the Directions

Grant applications can be challenging. Each one is different and has its own set of rules, making it imperative to diligently read through the directions. Highlight important details like page requirements, supporting documentation, contact information to include, and the submission process. Take note of anything unusual, so you don’t skip over it. Some funders are very particular about potential grantees’ abilities to follow their rules.


  1. You Didn’t Double Check Your Math

It can be easy to make a mistake when compiling a budget. You miss a number here or you skip a decimal there, and suddenly your numbers are completely off. Make sure you check and recheck your math.

Conduct research on cost before writing a budget for a grant. Price out the equipment you need, request quotes from outside vendors, and get the most accurate estimates possible. Guesses and inflated numbers are not helpful.

Before finalizing your budget, make sure you are asking for an amount that falls within the funder’s range. Study previous winners to see how much money they received. Asking for too much can be just as damaging as asking for too little.


  1. You Didn’t Customize Your Proposal to the Grant

Lack of customization is a common reason funding is denied. Sending out the same proposal to every grant is not the way to win. No matter how well written your application, if it is not tailored to each individual grant, the funder will likely disregard it quickly.

Having a strong, standard proposal (not customized) is a great starting point. It provides a template you can pull information from as you create a unique application for each grant. Once you’ve funneled some of the standard information into an application, customize it to the specifications of the grant.


Now What?

The harsh truth is, you can do everything right and still not win a grant. When you’re competing with a wide pool of equally passionate applicants, there is always someone who comes out disappointed. It is important to look at a rejection as motivation for growth.

After receiving a rejection, follow protocol for what to do when you don’t receive a grant. A sincere thank you letter is always appreciated. Continue to build your relationship with the foundation by reaching out to ask for specific feedback on your proposal. This lets them know you’re interested in submitting again and that you are committed to improvement.

While a rejection may be a “no” right now, it doesn’t mean “no” forever. There are plenty of education grants available—keep submitting and learn from every response.


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