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Dealing with Rejection

You’ve just uploaded the final draft of your grant proposal. You hit ‘complete & send’; instantly a friendly message pops up on your screen letting you know your application has been successfully submitted. “Successfully Submitted”. You sigh some relief.

…And now the wait begins…

Those of us who have been preparing and writing grants for some time are at least a little bit familiar with the anxiety and anticipation that writing processes can produce. No matter how well-organized, prepared and informed your grant application may be, the familiar pangs of unease and uncertainty are a likely reward for all your hard work and efforts in getting your application in on time.

Not too long after you’ve completely forgotten what a terrible grant application process that was, you receive news from your funder.

… Rejected…

You are left with a pang in the pit of stomach… maybe even a few waves of embarrassment, nausea, maybe even slight sniffs of depression.
Here are some helpful practices for dealing with rejection. Yes, they are practices because rejections are far more common than grant approvals.

1. Talk It Out & Reflect:

Colleagues and friends are a great resource for talking through any setbacks, failures, and rejections related to work and professional development.

Helpful Hint: Ensure you build a team of support before starting the grant. This way you have a team of people behind you who have been there from the start of the process.

2. Ask for Feedback, Look For Improvements:

Contact your funder to inquire why your application was rejected. Ideally you would have had contact with them prior to your application submission. For most larger competitions, funders can provide simple feedback based on how they evaluate applications and where yours went amiss. They may have found, for example, that your application or organization’s goals were not aligned with their overall funding goals or mandate. In other cases, they might have found some inconsistencies that caused them to pause. Constructive feedback is usually only provided when asked for, but it can be used as helpful learning lessons for future applications.

Helpful Hint: If you find that your application was rejected due to grammatical errors or an unstructured narrative, use this feedback to do better the next time by expanding your editing time, networks and resources for the future.

3. Find Additional Resources:

Grant writing is rarely, if ever, a natural ability. In other words, most successful writers acquire beneficial advice and the knack of ‘how-to’ from others. Luckily there are lots of helpful resources and knowledge networks to assist, and most of this is easily accessible on the internet. The Grant Advance platform, for example, has easy to use, step-by-step instructions on grant writing, as well as a wide range of support material in their Help Centre.

Helpful Hint: You might want to consider looking for any online training and/or certifications that give you the necessary tools to get grant writing done with more ease and proficiency.

4. Breathe and Let it Go:

Let the waves of whatever you feel come through, and then breath it all out. Rejection can feel devastating because a lot may be resting on a successful grant: jobs, new research projects, community programs for those in need, or even just the coverage of operational costs to keep your doors open. It’s easy to feel discouraged and maybe even emotional. Breath it out and focus on healthy practices that keeps you from falling down the spiral rejection sometimes set us on. If that means taking time away from focusing on grants for short while, do that. Focus on successes and keep positive about the goals you’ve set up for the future. And always, keep the rejection in perspective- it is most applicants experience and it is not personal.

Helpful Hint: Ensure you become familiar with your funder and the specifics of the grant you are applying for. Do your organizational and project goals fit within the guidelines and mandates the funder has set out? Is there synergy between the language the funder is using and your specific projects’ key objectives?

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