Sample Grant Rejection Letters: Examples & What to Do

Writing grant proposals is part of running a nonprofit. Receiving a few grant rejection letters is the inevitable outcome of writing grants. After spending so much time and effort drafting your grant proposal and preparing your application, it can feel frustrating to receive a grant rejection letter. However, we are here to tell you that it’s part of the process.

In this article, we will provide sample grant rejection letters to help you get more familiar with what you might receive. We will also offer tips on how to read your grant rejection letter and the most common reasons grants are rejected in the first place.

What is a Grant Rejection Letter?

If you write grants for your nonprofit, you are bound to receive a rejection letter. A rejection letter is much like it sounds. It is a letter letting you know the grantmaker has not awarded you the grant funding you requested.

Most grant rejection letters will quickly and specifically alert you that your funding inquiry was not awarded. The large majority of these letters will be short; foundations and grantmakers know that the last thing you want is to read through a long letter just to learn that your project was not funded. Short letters are a sign of respect and understanding of the disappointment that will come with their message.

A grant rejection letter is not intended to be harsh or critical. In fact, most grantmakers want you to know they appreciate your effort in submitting your application. As a result, it is common to receive feedback within these grant rejection letters. Read these letters with the mind for improving your next proposal. Even in just a few short paragraphs, a grant rejection letter can hold rich and valuable information on how to strengthen your future proposals.

Finally, a grant rejection letter may outline when and how to apply for future funding opportunities. Keep in mind that organizations want to fund impactful projects. These dollars are typically reserved for supporting nonprofit efforts and the grantmaker wants to encourage a deep and wide applicant pool. Pay attention to any notes of future grant cycles.

The next section of this grant rejection letter guide will provide examples of grant rejection letters for you to see what to expect if you receive one.

Sample Grant Rejection Letters

Most grant rejection letters are similar in form and content. The intent of the letter is to respectfully, but clearly, notify the applicant that their grant proposal has not been selected for funding.

These next three sample grant rejection letters should help you familiarize yourself with what to expect. It is important that you become comfortable receiving these letters and do not lose confidence in your proposal. Receiving these letters is part of the grant writing process, and the following examples can help you prepare for this inevitability.

Sample Grant Rejection Letter 1

Dear {Nonprofit leader},

On behalf of the board of trustees of {foundation}, we regret to inform you that your proposal has not been approved for funding. This determination was made after careful consideration of your application and supporting documents.

 The applicant pool was large and unfortunately we are unable to fund all proposals at this time. Thank you for the time and effort you committed to submitting your application. We hope you continue to pursue your project, and we encourage you to submit another application for consideration at a later date. Our grant cycles begin each January and close for consideration in March.

 Sincerely,

{Foundation signor} 

This sample rejection letter from a foundation is the most simple and common letter you might receive. The foundation quickly reveals that you were not selected for funding, thanks you for your application, and offers a small token of support.

Do not take the concise structure of the letter as an indication of a lack of interest in your project. Note the opportunity and timing for the next grant cycle and move on.

Sample Grant Rejection Letter 2

Dear {nonprofit leader},

This letter is to inform you that your response to our request for proposals has not been selected. Unfortunately, your application did not meet the conditions required to satisfy our contract requirements.

 On close examination, your proposal fails to address {item from RFP} which is a non-negotiable for funding consideration. Additionally, the RFP stated the need for selected applicants to reside in {insert state} in order for us to award this particular grant. As your organization is based in {state}, we are unable to consider your application.

 If you need more details relating to your submission or the project, please feel free to reach out via phone or email. Thank you for your submission and best of luck.

Sincerely,

{CEO}

In this example of a sample letter of rejection for a business proposal, a similar format to the prior letter is used. They cut to the chase in disclosing that the proposal will not be funded. However, they also give feedback on where the deficiencies were in the proposal and offer the opportunity to reach out for more information.

In this instance, you can see the interest of grantmaking organization in supporting grant applicants toward viable and worthwhile funding requests. This organization even offered to provide feedback when the applicant would not meet the conditions of the grant due to their state of operation.

Another key takeaway from this grant rejection letter is the importance of paying attention to the grant application requirements. Resources like Instrumentl can help nonprofits find the best grant opportunities that they qualify for through intelligent matching to avoid a rejection letter like this one.

Sample Grant Rejection Letter 3

Dear {Nonprofit},

This letter is to inform you that your recent request for project funding has been denied. While we were impressed with your proposal and compelled by the challenges you are working to solve, we are unable to provide your requested financial support.

Our current grant cycle has ended and we have expended all of our available resources for prior submitted projects. Our review team would like you to resubmit your proposal when the new grant cycle begins in May. We think your project is quite viable and aligned with our mission to serve {audience}.

In the meantime, we would encourage you to continue finding ways to create project sustainability, as that was one area we noted was lacking in specificity.

 We hope to see your project request later this year. Thank you for considering us as a collaborator in your work.

Warm Regards,

{Foundation}

In this sample letter denying request for funding, the nonprofit reached out to a foundation outside of a grant cycle. It is likely that you will come across foundations that align with your mission but aren’t offering grants at the time. These are foundations to focus on partnerships with. Do not feel apprehensive to reach out because even if you are rejected, you might start fostering a relationship with their organization.

This letter shows a sample of a response you might receive. The foundation was not able to award any funding for the request, but they expressed high praise for the project and the opportunity for potential future funding. They also offered a new deadline for resubmission. Be sure to track these letters and feedback.

If you would like to set up easier processes for tracking these kinds of deadlines, Instrumentl provides grant tracking tools that can help.

You can see, grant rejection letters are typically short and to the point. You will read quickly that your project was not selected for funding. Many letters will provide specific feedback on why your proposal wasn’t selected. Others will simply inform you that you were unsuccessful.

If a grant rejection letter provides feedback, take time to consider their suggestions. These comments are coming from a grant review committee and will be similar to many other review committees. You should plan to receive a few rejection letters, and you should hope that you are able to learn a bit about better grant writing through the rejection process.

Thank You Letter After Rejection Sample

And, as a bonus, we are including an example of a possible thank you letter after a rejection letter.

Sending a response to a grant rejection letter may set you up for a positive reputation going into another grant cycle.

A thank you letter does not make future funding a guarantee, but kindness and gratitude is always appreciated. It can also help secure your nonprofit some name recognition in the event your proposal is read in a future grant cycle.

Dear {Foundation},

We sincerely appreciate your time and consideration of our recent project proposal submission. We understand the magnitude of potential projects requesting funding and know that not all needs can be met. Nonetheless, we are grateful for the opportunity you provide in offering grant funding for nonprofit organizations such as ours.

 If you have any feedback or suggestions to strengthen our proposal, we would be grateful to hear from you.

 We hope to have the opportunity to work with you in the future.

Kind regards,

{Nonprofit CEO}”

Check out our blog posts on how to respond to grant rejection letters. In the next sections, we will talk a bit about how to read and learn from your grant rejection letter.

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How to Understand Grant Rejection Letters

So you received a grant rejection letter, but what does it mean? Getting a rejection letter does not mean it’s time to give up. Use the rejection letter as a learning tool for your next grant writing process.

There are a few key things to understand when you read your grant rejection letter.

It will be to the point. At times, letters that are straight forward can come across as harsh. Rejection letters are written to get right to the point that you were not awarded the grant funding. It is important that the letters are written this way so there is no confusion. Do not take the letter personally.

Your project is still valid. Unless the letter specifically outlined why or how your proposal is not feasible, it’s likely that you have a perfectly viable project. Do not read a rejection letter as if it means your project is not something to continue to pursue funding for.

The grantmaker wants to keep you in good relations. It is important to read a rejection letter in the tone that it was written. The large majority of grantmakers and foundations hope you will maintain a good relationship with them and would encourage you to apply again. Reviewers and grant decision makers aren’t reading proposals with the hope of rejection. They want to find the best fit and best application prospects. They value your submission. 
Try again. When you read a rejection letter, make sure to take note of any productive feedback you can incorporate into your next proposal submission. In fact, some rejection letters will give specific feedback and request that you resubmit in the next cycle. They mean it. Make the recommended changes and resubmit on the indicated timeline.

Top Reasons Grant Applications are Rejected

If you want to avoid receiving grant rejection letters, it is worthwhile to understand why grant applications are denied. While some grant applicant pools are incredibly competitive and the reason for rejection may not be more than the significant number of proposals, there are some specific things to avoid. Here are the top reasons grant applications are rejected:

1. Incomplete applications: likely the most common reason for rejection is the lack of required or requested information. Be sure you are thorough and complete in providing all requested information.

2. Not following guidelines: you must be certain that you are following all of the listed guidelines for your proposal and submission process. Typically, not following the posted guidelines is grounds for your proposal to not even be considered.

3. Mission misalignment: at times, your proposal is just not a good fit with the mission or goals of the grantmaker or foundation. It is worthwhile to check that your mission aligns with the organization or the intent of the grant funds prior to submitting a proposal.

4. Poorly presented proposal: if your budget doesn’t match your narrative, or you do not clearly and successfully articulate your project, you may be rejected. Your proposal is how the reviewers will paint a picture of your intended project execution. Don’t expect them to fill in gaps or guess at any details. How you present your plan is how it will be read. It’s helpful to read successful grant proposal examples to know what solid proposals look like.

5. Not grant ready: it is also possible that your nonprofit organization is just not quite ready to receive grant funding. This can be due to a variety of factors within your nonprofit, such as your organizational structures, financial situation, and programmatic strength. Instrumentl provides a detailed analysis you can use to consider if your nonprofit is grant ready.

There are innumerable reasons for your grant proposal to be rejected. This list outlines just a few of the most common reasons given in grant rejection letters. Keep in mind there will be times when your proposal is absolutely solid and more than satisfactory yet does not receive funding. It may mean that the reason for selecting another applicant came down to preference within the review process.

Even with the most objective review, some evaluations are too close to call and require a consensus selection based on reviewer opinion. Keep your enthusiasm for the value of your project and your commitment will shine through in future grant applications.

Wrapping Things Up: Grant Rejection Letters

Writing grant proposals is a time consuming process. It can feel upsetting to receive a rejection letter after you put so much time and effort into drafting your proposal. After reading this article, you should know that rejection letters are part of the grant writing process.

This article also provided you with sample grant rejection letters, insight on how to read your rejection letter, and common reasons why your grant proposal may have been rejected. We hope this information helps you feel a little less sting when you receive a rejection letter.

For more information on the grant writing process and how to find the right grant opportunities for your nonprofit, sign up to try Instrumentl free for 14-days.

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