Waiting is one of the hardest parts of applying for grants. Even quick response grant funds can take six weeks to let you know if you were successful. Success rates are low. You need to prepare for disappointments as well as success. Sometimes your bid will fail even when it was a great fit. Try not to let that put you off. It is just the way that grant funding works.
Here are some do’s and don’ts for while you wait.
- apply for other grants
- look at your overall funding and income plan and see if other types of funding could work for you
- keep planning for your project
- help people manage their expectations.
- discuss what your next steps are if the bid fails.
- start your project
- make any commitments you won’t be able to keep if the money doesn’t come through
- hassle the grant funder for updates.
As soon as you hear that you've received a grant you can start building your relationship with that funder.
- Check the grant conditions - if there are things they need to provide, send them right away. If you can’t send them right away, send them an update on when they can expect them.
- Send a thank you letter or email (this can go with the grant conditions updates if you have them).
- Check the information about how they want you to credit them for their grant (in publicity etc). Make sure everyone involved in the project has that information in a form they can easily use.
- Check when they want reports or information from you and make a plan to hit those deadlines. If they don’t ask for reports, make your own deadline for shortly after the end of the project.
- Make sure you know your main point of contact. This should be the person responsible for managing your grant.
As you get the project going there are two key things to think about as well as the day to day of making the project happen
- How are you checking you're achieving your aims or outcomes? Make sure you think about monitoring and evaluation early on.
- How will you fund more activities once the grant has ended? It's never too soon to start thinking about this.
Rejections for grant applications are like rejections for novelists. You have to learn to expect them to happen. You need to be able to brush yourself off and start again.
- Look at any feedback the grant funder sent you. Treat it as if it is fair and accurate, even if it feels like it isn’t. Can you find someone to help you improve any of the areas for future bids?
- Check your research. Did you miss a reason why the fund might not be a good fit? Were you unlucky that there were other applications that they liked more?
- If you think the fund was a good fit, look for their rules about how long you need to wait before applying again. Sometimes you can apply straight away. Sometimes you must wait a year or longer.