You Must Not Know 'Bout Me - Dealing with Rejection

Got rejected from that application you slaved over? Yeah, me too. Listen - the world is not ending. Where there's a will, there's a way, and girl have we got so much will.

Need some tips for bouncing back from that heartache? Read on my precious piglets. 


Okay look, I’m gonna be real with you. You are going to get rejected. Maybe this is the third or fourth or fifth time you’ve been rejected. It’s happened to me too. So give yourself a moment to grieve this loss. You worked really hard on this, you care about it, and it hurts to feel rejected. So take a moment in whatever way you need to, and then dust off your knees and get back to it. Tomorrow is a new day that you will take by the reigns, you fierce kween you.



This seems kind of obvious, right? It’s not a cop-out. There are literally hundreds, maybe even thousands of applicants that applied to this grant. And, just like you, they all had great ideas and projects. The important thing to remember here is that choosing a grantee is a really difficult job. The boards that comb through the applicants understand where you’re coming from. Chances are, they’ve been in your position many times, so the process of picking who gets what isn’t flippant, and it’s heartbreaking to send out rejection letters. If you didn’t get this opportunity it probably means that you aren’t a good fit for them.

This might mean that it’s just not your time and that you should keep applying until you get it. There is absolutely no shame in doing this. Actually, I recommend it. As long as there are no re-applying restrictions, go for it. I can’t even tell you how many times I hear about applicants who get the opportunity on their 5th or 6th try. And let me tell you how freakin’ good that feels once you finally get it.

Pro Tip: If at first you don’t succeed, apply, apply again.



Ready for some tough love? If this grant really seems like a perfect fit for you and you still didn’t get it, then chances are you missed something in the application. Did you follow the instructions? Are you actually eligible? Did you really write to the best of your ability, or did you throw it together last minute? Or, maybe you set some impossible expectations for yourself (*raises hand*).

I can’t stress enough how important it is to follow the instructions on a grant. Because these foundations get so many applicants, they can’t give you an exception. They won’t bother with an application that doesn’t follow their protocol, and sometimes that means it didn’t even get through their system since everything is automated. I’m not saying this to scare you - most applications are not complicated at all. Just take your time, read everything, save & triple check before you hit submit.



If you’re still puzzling over your rejection letter(s), consider that this isn’t the grant for you. Revisit your original application and consider why the board reviewing it did not choose it. If you can spot a misalignment with your project and the grant requirements or foundation’s mission statement, then that is a pretty solid indication that you aren’t going to receive their funding. That doesn’t mean that you can’t re-apply. Perhaps this foundation is better suited for another project of yours. Keep it in your back pocket for the future, you never know how your work may evolve.

If you have the opportunity to get feedback on your application, jump on it. This is very rare, but occasionally you can set up an appointment with someone from the foundation to talk about what you could do better for next time. There’s no shame in writing a polite email to ask if someone is willing to talk with you, but don’t be surprised if you don’t get a response at all. If you do get some feedback, run with it. Use this information for when you re-apply to this grant and to others. Although this criticism may be hard to hear, remember that these people are genuinely trying to help you and that they definitely want you to succeed.

Pro Tip: Revisit old applications if your work changes


You may never know why you got rejected, and that’s okay too. It’s important to let that sh*t go. Besides, you’re too busy focusing on winning that next grant, finishing your next project, and running your totally awesome business. “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, Harry.”

Grant writing is difficult, so I’d be filling your head with marshmallow fluff if I told you to be surprised if you didn’t get it on your first try. However, it’s not impossible. So keep your chin up and keep applying!


Looking for some grant writing tips? Check out my article on 5 Steps to Landing that Grant!