Funding Your Writing Projects: Don’t Take the Money and Run

Gigi RosenbergBy Gigi Rosenberg

Many grant writers make the mistake of thinking that once they mail their application, the process is over. In fact, the grant writing process isn’t over until you have sent your thank-you notes. Send a thank-you note no matter the outcome of your grant. Thanking people is the way to build your relationships and your community.

If you receive the grant, send a thank-you note to everyone involved in the granting process. Start with the person who signed your award letter, but don’t forget about the head of the organization and the panel who judged your work. Sometimes the funding agency will supply a list of panel members and their snail mail addresses.

In your note, make a brief reference to your project and how excited you are to have the support of this agency. Be upbeat and grateful.

If you don’t get the grant, give yourself a day to pout, cry and complain. But do not correspond with the granting agency when you are feeling defensive, angry and unloved. Save these feelings for your good friends and/or the therapist’s couch.

Within two weeks of receiving your rejection letter, when you are feeling more upbeat, send a thank-you note to the granting organization. Even if your project was not awarded funding, this is still the beginning of a relationship. Thank the organization for considering your application. Tell them that you appreciate the feedback you received (if you’ve received any) and that you look forward to writing a stronger application next time.

Thank-you notes should always be handwritten and mailed in an envelope with a commemorative stamp. No email thank-you notes unless that is your only choice. Write your note on professional-looking stationary with your name printed on it. This can be fancy or inexpensive. But it needs to be real and sent through the mail. This alone will make you stand out from the crowd.

Then, call the organization to get feedback on your grant. This is not always possible or available but if it is, this information can be a goldmine. You may find out that you had a stellar application that would have been funded except they ran out of money. Most likely you will receive very useful tips for how to improve your application next time.

During this phone call, don’t try to defend or explain your project. Most likely the person on the phone with you was not part of the final decision anyway. Just get the facts about why you weren’t funded and how you could strengthen your application next time.

Closing the loop with gratitude is a way of staying in the game. Even if you’ve lost, you’re hitting the ball back; you’re saying you will learn from the experience. You’re in it for the long haul. You’re a contender. And if you’ve won, your appreciation will only reinforce the favorable opinions of the people and organizations that have helped move you further toward your goals.

Gigi Rosenberg is a writer, teacher and occasional performer of edgy, comic monologues on motherhood, relationships and the existential nature of being. Her essays and how-to articles have been published in Writer’s Digest, The Oregonian, The Jewish Review, Cycle California! Magazine and Parenting. “The Hanukkah Bush,” her radio commentary, was featured on Oregon Public Broadcasting. She coaches writers on how to read in public and teaches regional and national workshops on “Grant Writing for Success.”

1 Response to “Funding Your Writing Projects: Don’t Take the Money and Run”

  1. 1 J. Spann August 7, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Good points. In the case of a rejection, sending a handwritten note to the program officer who reviewed your proposal can help to establish rapport.

    When you follow-up with a phone call to find out the reason(s) for the rejection, you may find it easier to get a bit of feedback.

    It also wouldn’t hurt to ask the program officer if he or she knows of any other organization that might be a better fit for your proposal. You may just end up with one or two more promising leads.

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