After putting in all that effort and feeling quietly confident about a positive outcome, you find out that you are not successful in securing that grant.
The disappointment can be deep and lasting but there are some positives to take away from the situation.
First of all – get some feedback from the government agency to which you applied. There should be a direct channel for this to occur. A face to face feedback session is best but depending on the grant program’s processes, it may only be possible to discuss this over the phone. Either way, this is valuable. Try to gain as much insight into why your application was unsuccessful and importantly, what could you have done in order to be successful. Go through your application responses and the style and even the background information like referees, financials and previous grant experience during the feedback session to see what you can uncover.
If any of these items is lacking, then you will be able to take some comfort in understanding where you fell short. Take this information to your team and improve upon it for when the next grants round opens.
Do not: be defensive, accusing or petulant in this feedback session. Grants programs are well designed and usually have a panel of decision makers – experts in their particular field. Programs have specific objectives and guidelines to support all contingencies. There will be reasons why you were not successful and these can be made clear to you by the government representative.
Do not: bad mouth the program, the government agency or the personnel involved in the decision making or the feedback session. This will never serve you well in your future dealings with government. Writing to a Minister or the Mayor or the CEO or to the assessment panel is usually NOT a good tactic. Keep your good name and brand intact by taking on board all the comments and suggestions in a mature manner. Resolve to submit a better application next time.
The key point is to take the feedback and use it to improve on your applications in the future:
Sharpen your approach
Sharpen your team
Sharpen your pencil
Do: discuss the outcomes with your team. Use all the feedback you receive from the government agency and put it into action for the next opportunity. If ‘next time’ means spending more time/money on writing the application, upskilling the team, collaborating with an experienced partner, shifting your focus in the application or realising that you are in a highly competitive field where perhaps it is, in the end, not your core strength, then put that plan into effect.
Do: get assistance with writing, find better/more recent referees, be more selective and discerning in your choice of grant program and address the shortcomings raised by the grants team BEFORE you download the next application form.
Government will reward high quality applications from high quality organisations who can deliver high quality projects in a timely, cost-effective, consistent and efficient way.
Make sure you are one of those organisations.
Good luck in all your grant applications!