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How to Follow Up on Foundation and Corporate Grant Requests

When you submit a grant application to a foundation or corporate funder, you may find information on procedures for grant proposal awards and declines on the funder's Web site. If you can’t locate the funder’s guidelines, it’s okay to call the funder for more information on your funding application’s status. However, wait at least six to nine months after your submission date to make this call.

Determining whether your grant request is under review

The most desirable and immediate communication from a funder tells you that your funding request has been received and is under review. You’re likely to receive this communication by e-mail or postcard.

The least desired immediate communication from a funder tells you that your grant application was received and that the funder isn’t considering it for a grant or other type of funding award. This communication could also be sent via e-mail or postcard.

Sometimes, a rejection letter comes with a further stipulation that you not submit another grant request for at least one year. Most rejection letters are sent to you within 90 days of the funder’s receipt of your grant request.

Finding out whether you’re funded

After your first positive communication from the funder indicating that your request is under review, expect a letter within several months (some come in 90 days; other funders can take up to 18 months) that tells you the outcome of the funder’s review.

The most desired letter from a funder includes information on the amount of your funding award and how to begin the process of transferring funds.

The least desired letter, however, is a rejection letter stating that you won’t be awarded any funding.

Following up after a grant rejection

When your project is denied funding by a foundation or corporate funder, first call each funder to determine why your grant proposal was rejected. You can't correct narrative weaknesses based on the feedback from a standard form rejection letter, or worse yet, a standard form rejection e-mail or postcard. When you consider the time spent researching and writing your grant proposal, you owe it to yourself to find out why you failed.

Ask for face-to-face meetings with all funders located within driving distance. If funders are located too far away to schedule face-to-face meetings, call and ask for the best time to discuss the weaknesses in your funding request with a program officer.

Tell whomever you speak with that you spent dozens of hours researching the funder, looking at previous grantees, and reviewing the funder’s grant application guidelines. Go on to say that you’re perplexed as to why your grant proposal was not selected for funding. Be humble, hurt, and open for suggestions. Okay, grovel!

At no time should you become argumentative with a foundation or corporate funder about your grant proposal’s rejection. After all, you may want to submit another grant proposal to the funder in the future.

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