Unfortunately, there are many occasions on which grant proposals are turned down. When first faced with the funding program decision, many companies start doubting themselves and their company’s business model or its value proposition. This is not surprising, considering how highly companies value their funding program approval; as a high level of business validation, it can open many other doors. As gruesome as rejection sounds, it does not necessarily mean the company in question is not good enough or that there is something wrong with it. With the success rate of all grants ranging from 17% to 89%, the chance that a proposal will be turned down averages about 50%. Thus, for any two companies applying for government funding, one grant proposal will be turned down. (Watch for a future post on why proposals get turned down.)
Below is a quick summary of key steps that can take you through this painful period – the first couple of weeks after your grant proposal was rejected.
Step 1 – Collect as much information as available
Most grant agencies use on-line submission systems to communicate with applicants and getting any information about why the proposal was rejected may seem like crossing the Berlin Wall. Your first step after the rejection letter, however, is to see if there is any communication attached to your on-line submission system profile. You may or may not find the explanation about why the grant was rejected, but it is a good starting point that will save you time down the road. If you have discovered a formal way to request feedback (“a button”) – do it right away.
Step 2 – Evaluate feedback
Why was your proposal turned down? Was it poorly written or was the technology not compelling enough? This is the most painful and unpleasant part, but handling it gracefully may really turn things around for you. If you are able, try to get a sense of how the proposal was evaluated and if the same set of evaluation criteria will be used again next time. If you are able to schedule a face-to-face meeting, go for it! Just be coolheaded and avoid going into an explanation about the original proposal. For example, if you are told you did not present your key value propositions, but you did, this is not the time and place to argue about it. Your goal is to learn what went wrong.
Step 3 – Check for the next submission deadline
When is the next submission deadline? Can you prepare a new proposal in time for next deadline? If you can (and you are eligible for resubmission), try to reapply at the next deadline and leverage on being quick and motivated. However, do not make the fatal assumption that your proposal will go through the second time around just because you reapplied. Your goal should be to react to the rejected proposal as quickly as possible, but with high quality content and this takes us to Step 4.
Step 4 – Follow-up on the feedback
If you do decide to resubmit, you need to make sure you followed up on the feedback and changed the proposal accordingly. This is typically the hardest part, as it is extremely difficult to decide whether to undertake a series of small fixes in order to considerably revise the original proposal or start entirely from scratch and rewrite the proposal. In either scenario you must be mindful of the short window of time you have before the next submission deadline.
Step 5 – Submit
Now when things are ready and everything is fixed – submit the proposal. If you were able to establish a channel of communication with a funding agency, let your contact know that you followed through on the feedback and will be resubmitting. Although, this will not add any merits to your proposal, it does cast you as a high-achieving professional who is committed to the success of your business.
And the final note, do not give up!
ConnexFund specializes in grants and funding for innovative companies and start-ups with focus on technology and manufacturing. Many Canadian businesses are aware that there is some free money available for them. But not so many know where to find it, how to access it and how to prepare a grant application that is successful. And this is exactly what ConnexFund does!