You’ve recently had a grant proposal rejected and, after some reflection, you’re wondering if you should resubmit. You might even be thinking that your “labour of love” was pretty well written and it’s possible the funder just needs to see it again. If you’ve ever thought about that, you’re not alone. But is resubmitting a grant proposal a good idea or a bad idea? Would a funder really say “yes” to a grant application they have already denied? That’s a good question, and one you will want to carefully consider before investing any more time in what could be a losing proposition.
Before Resubmitting, Know Why Your Grant Proposal Was Rejected
Before ever considering resubmitting a grant proposal, remember that there are multiple reasons for why a proposal may have been rejected in the first place. Understanding your specific situation and why your proposal received a “no” is incredibly helpful when making the decision about whether to send it in for a second attempt.
Here are just a few reasons why a proposal might be rejected:
- There were a number of great proposals the funder accepted instead of yours.
- The proposal didn’t follow the outlined guidelines.
- The proposal didn’t include all required documentation.
- The grant cycle timing didn’t align with the project timing.
- The project goals were different than the funder’s goals.
- The organization didn’t appear ready to accept grant funding.
- The project objectives weren’t measurable.
- The budget didn’t add up appropriately.
- The proposal failed to meet the submission deadline.
- The proposal failed to show the benefits or impact of the project.
- The proposal asked for too much money.
Resubmissions Can Succeed
While the reason behind your original grant rejection could have been for many different reasons, it is not unusual for grant writers to resubmit, and also not unreasonable for a funder to actually say “yes” to a proposal that has been resubmitted. In fact, the review committee may actually be a completely different group of people with no prior knowledge or information to let them know your proposal was previously turned down. Now, that doesn’t mean your organization should just casually resubmit a proposal without making important changes, but it does mean resubmissions can absolutely succeed if the right steps are taken.
3 Steps You Should Take Before Resubmission Of A Proposal
Here are the three steps you need to take before resubmitting your proposal:
- Connect with the funder to receive feedback.
- Implement the feedback through tangible and easily discernable ways.
- Review and edit the feedback before resubmitting the proposal.
In a February blog post, we wrote about how to leverage grant writing rejection to turn that experience into success. In “How To Survive Grant Writing Rejection And Use It To Your Advantage,” we discussed the idea of asking for feedback from a funder when your organization hears “no.” This idea also translates when considering the idea to resubmit a grant.
Step 1. Connect with the funder to receive feedback.
While gathering feedback and input from people who have told you “no” can be intimidating, it can also be a very liberating process. Once you gain a firm understanding for why a proposal was rejected, it is much easier to make an informed decision about whether to reapply and what might be needed to enhance the proposal.
The first step in the resubmission process is to set up an opportunity to connect with the funder. A face-to-face meeting is ideal, but if that is not possible, a phone conversation would also be incredibly helpful to have the chance to ask questions, clarify feedback, and ensure you are on the right track. In this meeting with the funder, don’t hesitate to specifically ask about the opportunity to resubmit your proposal. If a funder clearly tells you there is no point in resubmitting, you will save your organization a lot of effort and emotional energy. If they are open to the idea of resubmission, listen actively and take copious notes to ensure you hear everything they have to offer. Ask for clear examples of changes that need to be made. The more concrete the examples, the easier the revision process will be, and the greater chance you will have at gaining success with a second submission.
Step 2. Implement all the feedback.
As many have written before, common sense isn’t always that common. Although it may seem as though “implementing all the feedback” is a no-brainer step in this process, we want to be very clear that there shouldn’t be any debate when it comes to the changes that must be made to a proposal. You may disagree with a funder about what your proposal lacks or what needs to be done to prepare it for a particular funder, but unless there is an ethical or moral reason for why the change shouldn’t be made, or if the change will result in a shift in your program that is too severe, you are best to leave your personal preferences and opinions out of the process. It really is only the funder that matters in this situation.
So, how can you be sure to implement all the feedback? Shortly after the meeting with the funder is over, generate a checklist of all the changes the funder proposed. With the checklist close by, you can begin to make edits and revisions based on every piece of feedback the funder has provided. This type of administration and organization of the second proposal should provide you with confidence that you have effectively dealt with all the funder’s concerns and that the proposal is closer to what it needs to be in order to be successful.
Step 3. Complete a thorough review and edit.
Once the revisions are complete, it is time to take your proposal through a rigorous review and editing process. In every case, not just a scenario of resubmitting a proposal, it can be extremely effective to have an outside source complete the review process. Find someone you know and trust who understands grant writing and completing proposals, but who isn’t too closely aligned with your project that they end up bringing their presuppositions to the process. A fresh set of eyes is vital for catching small spelling and grammar mistakes, while someone outside your organization will also bring an unbiased opinion to the review. The more brutal honesty one can bring to the editing process, the greater chance the funder’s perspective will have been considered and even understood.
As part of the review process, provide your editor with a high-level understanding of some of the changes and additions the funder was seeking. This perspective will be important to ensure your editor reads to make sure the appropriate changes and revisions were implemented in a helpful way.
Don’t Waste A Funder’s Time… Or Yours
If you and your organization are going to go through the process of receiving feedback and engaging a funder with the idea of resubmitting your proposal, be sure to follow through with excellence. Don’t take this opportunity lightly, and do everything in your power to impress the funder with the level of care that has been shown in reworking the proposal. Resubmitting an application demonstrates a high level of perseverance and a commitment to having an impact through the work of your organization.
What Should You Do Next?
Have you recently had a proposal declined? Do you think there is an opportunity to resubmit? Take some time to examine your proposals from the past six months or a year to see if there is one or two you think might be worth revisiting. If you have one, connect with the funder as soon as possible and set up a time to discuss.
Want to get inside the mind of a funder before you resubmit your grant? Our GrantsEdge Coach will help you get your proposal ready to impress your funder. Check out GrantsEdge Coach to learn more about how we can support you and your organization.