Even well-organized, well-established nonprofits may fail at grant writing. There are several reasons this may be happening, and you might be surprised to find they’re not all linked to your writing.
1. You haven’t found a strong match with a foundation: Submitting grants to lots of foundations blindly, without taking the time to seek out a great match, will set your grants program up for failure. Prospect research takes time and effort, but it pays off in the end if you do it right.
2. Your writing is weak or otherwise needs improvement: Grant rejections are sometimes due to outside factors, but the writing can also be the problem. Revisit some grant writing tips, sharpen your skills, and seek outside help. Make that grant the best it can be!
3. You need to build better relationships with funders: Foundation grant writing success is often based on strong relationships. Invite foundations to see your program. Follow up with them when you get a rejection. Ask clarifying questions about their guidelines. Put time and effort into your grant reporting.
4. You are not grant ready: While nonprofit status legally opens you up to receive grant funding, it doesn’t mean you will magically receive a bunch of grants. We cannot overemphasize the importance of grant readiness; be sure you meet all of these requirements before jumping in.
5. You’re just having plain bad luck: The economic slowdown has hit nonprofits and foundations hard, limiting the amount of money everyone has to work with but increasing the number of people who need services. Often rejections are not a blanket “No,” but simply a “Not now.” Keep trying!
Grant writing is not an exact science. It involves careful planning, some trial and error, some luck, and lots of long-term effort. If you’re struggling, reassess your strategy and your writing and keep plugging away.
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