Well, I got my first official “NO!”, I have had these types of “No’s” before, in my work with other nonprofits, but this one was different because it is for MY nonprofit. The type of “NO” that I am talking about is “No, we will not fund you.”
This “NO” was for a small start-up grant. A grant that seemed too good to be true! When I went to the grant seminar and they explained the funding parameters I left the place thinking “EASY!!!” Ohh to think so grandiose about something like that. HA!
To be honest when I wrote the final draft of grant I was in major crisis mode. My life was filled with family health issues, but grant deadlines don’t move for your circumstance. So, I went ahead anyways with the proposal, writing it with tears in my eyes, because I was dealing with a lot of personal stuff and I was beyond exhausted. And still I thought, “DONE DEAL. That grant is mine.”
And then I went and curled into a little ball, as I prepared my self for a very difficult weekend.
November was a CRAZY month. I lost my grandfather to parkinson’s disease and my husband’s grandfather was in and out of ICU several times. Needless to say I had a lot of confidence but was clearly distracted, and for good reason!
I had done exactly what I had done before on other grants, I proof read the final version, had a colleague look it over and then sent it off. At least that’s what I thought I did. Little did I know I had a major email fail and it got stuck in my outbox. Which I promptly noticed the following Monday after it was due.
If you are fearing a “NO” don’t worry! Its part of the process to learning how to do this better.
I called and tried to plea my case and even was honest that my life at the moment was not going smoothly. Then they gave me a chance, a chance that I still think matters.
In my tear filled confidence I honestly thought “I am going to get this.” But when phone call came in and the voice over the phone said so delicately “We unfortunately will not be funding your proposal.” I was disappointed.
I did however find some pride in the “NO” a few hours later as I talked it over with some friends. A pride which stems from the fact that I was able to find clarity in my fundraising pitch. A clarity that I was able to put words to, that just this morning, turned into an offer for funding for our first event we plan to do!
Writing the grant forced me to hash out all the things that I had in my head, my vision, my experience and my legitimacy. It helped me to find important words through the prompts that I responded to, words that I have used multiple times this week in networking meetings.
It forced me to research and define sources for the data that I know to be true. And it forced me to open up and be honest with strangers who have money that I want for my nonprofit.
“Thank you grantors for your consideration” is how I ended my email when I finally got it submitted, and today I say thank you again! Because your consideration may have led to a “NO”, but your opportunity for funding led me to better communicate who I am and why I am doing this.
If you are fearing a “NO” don’t worry! Its part of the process to learning how to do this better. Keep the grant proposals that you got a “NO” on and use them to make the next proposal a “YES!”. If you truly did a good job in explaining yourself and answering the questions then they were in right to say “NO” because that means the proposal doesn’t actually fit their parameters. AND if they offer to explain why it was a “NO” take the feedback and swallow your pride because they are obviously impressed enough by you to give you more of their valuable time.