In the competitive funding environment, facing rejection is an important aspect of fundraising. We know it can be disheartening and sometimes knock your confidence. It is important that you respond well and don’t let it detract away from your goals.
How you respond to rejection is a key part of your pathway to success. More often than not, funders do not have enough funding to support everything they would like. If you are approaching a brand-new funder it likely you won’t see success until making a number of approaches.
It is important to think about how you can bounce back, while also focusing on the next opportunity. Here are some key tips to help you respond to rejection and strengthen your fundraising resilience.
- Request feedback
If you are able to, follow up with the funder to get a bit more detail on what could have made your application stronger. This may not always be possible, but if you can, this is the best thing you can do. It can help inform how you might make a stronger approach in the future. If this is the first time you have approached the funder, requesting feedback can be your chance to ‘open the door’ and start to build a relationship.
- Set realistic expectations
If you are approaching a funder for the first time it is always going to be less likely that you will see success straight away. You will know when the funder is a right fit, but it might take time to secure funding from them. Keep this in mind and think long-term. Make sure you are continuing to prioritise funders that you have built relationships with, while also approaching those that are new. Success can often be putting your proposal to someone else.
- Share your rejection with colleagues
As a fundraiser it is easy to take all the pressure of securing funding on yourself. As with every aspect of fundraising it is important to make sure your colleagues are aware and involved as well. A problem shared is a problem halved as you say! Considering any feedback you can gather; you can work with colleagues to bounce back and make your next approach even stronger.
- Look at other avenues
Keeping in mind funders are not able to support every request, making approaches for a project to a number of different funders can help increase your chances of success. Very often fundraising can also be ‘making your own luck’. If you have a good, well-crafted proposal, make good use of it by putting it out to others. Always make sure to tailor it to the funder, and focus it on addressing their interests.
- Be optimistic
Being optimistic is a key part of fundraising and driving you forward to achieve. Knowing that will face some knock backs can be overcome by continuing to focus on achieving your end goal. For every rejection you receive you are one step closer to securing the funding. At the same time try focusing on the success you have already had and the impact that your organisation or project is having – this should help you to continue driving forward.