There are a couple of points at which to follow up with funders. Soon after submitting your proposal, ensure they received your materials. For online submissions, follow up approximately one week after submission. For mailed proposals, follow up approximately one week after they should have received your materials. Regardless of whether your proposal is accepted by the potential funder, you should connect with them to seek feedback and further advice.
If you proposal was accepted, congratulations! Take a moment to celebrate. Now the real work begins, and you will have the opportunity to complete your project. Before you begin, you will need to complete some paperwork with your funder. Sometimes this is in the form of a contract or terms and conditions. This is also a great opportunity to send a thank-you note acknowledging how the grant will advance both your and the funder’s goals. As you begin work on your project, be sure to keep the funder informed of your progress and any questions or issues that may arise along the way. Be responsive to any communications the funder requires or initiates. Some funders may require regular reports, while others will not. Above all, do your best to complete the work that you said you would do in your proposal. If things don’t go according to plan, and your project runs into problems, be sure to communicate this with your funder and discuss options for alternative methods of completing the project. At the conclusion of your project, most funders will also require a final report that provides a summary of how the funds were used and the success of the project. Keep this in mind as you complete your work, making note of dates, financial transactions, obstacles, and how issues were resolved, as well as successes.
If your proposal was not accepted, don’t take it personally. A good grant writer has a success rate of 25-30%, so you should expect to receive some rejections. Take this as a learning opportunity and a chance to receive valuable feedback on your proposal. If funders do not provide this automatically, reach out to them and respectfully request feedback on why your proposal did not meet their criteria. Ask if there are ways your proposal could have been improved or been a better fit for the funder’s needs. You may also ask if they are able to provide a list of funded projects for this cycle, which could provide additional context for the types of projects that are getting funded. You may also ask about future funding or other prospects. Funding is a network game, and this funder may be able to provide valuable referrals or connections to other sources of funding. If you do apply to the same funder again in a subsequent cycle, be sure to incorporate any feedback you received–funders generally look for this. If you do receive a negative response, take it as a valuable opportunity to get direct feedback from a funder and seek other prospects.
Whether you have received a grant or not, you still have your vision for your project as well as your mission and goals. Consider how you will bring your project to fruition. Grants are only one source of funding, so consider alternative fundraising methods as needed. It is also acceptable to apply for more than one grant at a time, so consider concurrent proposals–just be sure you have the ability to complete each application thoroughly. The world of grants is a large one, but you now have the tools, support networks, and resources to navigate this system. Good luck!