No written on paper

What can you learn from a no?

So, you didn’t get the funding – now what? What do you need to be thinking about, reflecting on and planning to do next?

First of all I am really sorry that you did not get the vital funding you need for your organisation and your work. We know that there is not enough funding which makes the process competitive.

In normal times Trust Fundraisers are aiming for 1 in 10 success rate so that is nine nos for every yes! However, post covid people have been reporting a drop to 1 in 25.

We have to learn to build that resilience and understand that the rejection is not personal. It has taken me a long time to learn that. Even though my success rate is generally a 1 in 3 I still get knocked back more than I don’t. Moving on is key as you need to have the energy for the next one.

So, you didn’t get the funding – now what? What do you need to be thinking about, reflecting on and planning to do next? 

Looking after yourself

People are feeling the pressure more now than ever before. Are you taking care of yourself?

Please take a look at my article about mental health here – ‘How are you? – Caring for Mental Health’

What kind of ‘no’ was it?

=mc directors Clare Segal and Bernard Ross in their book The Influential Fundraiser (Wiley 2010) outlined the 9 different ways in which donors say ‘No’ and how to respond.

The nine fundraising Nos are:

  1. No, not for this
  2. No, not you
  3. No, not me
  4. No, not unless
  5. No, not in this way
  6. No, not now
  7. No, too much
  8. No, too little
  9. No, go away

Find out more here

Can you ask for feedback?

Feedback is vital to understand the reason that you were turned down so if it has not been offered with the rejection – ask for it. 

If the funder doesn’t have capacity to give feedback they will let you know but I can’t stress enough how important it is to ask!

Whatever they say about offering feedback, thank them. 

When you get feedback try to look at it objectively.

  • Could you have done more?
  • Were you clear enough expressing you ideas?
  • What was in there that wasn’t needed?
  • What was missing?

What did you learn in the process?

No funding application is a complete waste of time because you learn about you and the funder. 

To develop we need to learn.

Every bid 

  • teaches you something about your work
  • refines how you talk about your work
  • helps you understand the funder a little more
  • shows you what you could do to improve your bids 

What could you do differently next time?

It is important not to regret what you did not do in the application but to ensure that you apply what you know now to the next application or set of bids.

Use your energy to move forward.

Ask yourself

  • What do I know now that I did not know before?
  • Now you read the application again – were you clear enough in your narrative and finance information? 
  • On reflection, what could improve the application? Check out my article 7 ways to improve your funding applications you can start right now here
  • What can I learn from others who were successful?
  • Is there any feedback that will help me write better in the future?
  • Did you fall into any of the common pitfalls? Check out my blog Funders pet peeves – 5 mistakes to avoid here

Does your case for support need a refresh? Please get in touch for me FREE Case For Support Canvas at

Are there other funders out there for you?

Fundraisers often re-purpose their applications for other funders so can you think about applying to other trusts, foundations or lottery sources for this or similar work?

Check out my article – Find the best funders for you for FREE here

Final Thoughts

 I want to come back to your mental health. As someone who has had mental health issues in the past I can not stress enough how important I think it is to look after yourself and get support. 

Please take a look at my article about mental health here – How are you? – Caring for Mental Health here

Article also published on my LinekedIn here – take a look for more blogs and articles