Learn from the experience, ask for feedback and grow.
There is no guarantee a grant application will be selected for funding.
An organization may have done all the right things, built a great relationship with the donor, submitted a fabulous proposal, and still not get funded. Why? It is important to note that program officers play a vital role in the grant writing process. However, they don’t have the final say in who gets selected for funding. That is a board decision, a family decision if it’s a family foundation which has say over the distribution, a random group of reviewer’s scores that may determine the selected recipients etc. There is no way to know if a proposal will get funded prior to submitting an application.
But, you never know if you will get the dollars until you are notified.
If you don’t get funded, you should do a few things.
1) Write a hand-written thank-you to the potential donor and thank them for considering your proposal. Let them know you appreciate the opportunity to be considered and look forward to applying in a future cycle.
2) Call the program officer and request feedback on what to do to strengthen your proposal in the future. You should also confirm that it would be okay to reapply during their next cycle.
3) Accept any feedback without arguing or making excuses. As hard as this can be, trust me, it is the only way to go. Arguing will not get you the dollars you applied for. It will only leave a bad impression with the potential donor. Be humble, say thank-you, and implement any changes they suggest.
If you are not encouraged to reapply… accept that feedback and mark them off your list for now, but keep the relationship building in place. You never know when you will have a project or program that peaks their interest in the future.