Grants for Clean Technology Guidebook
What happens if my CleanTech grant application is denied?

This chapter will cover the main information to keep in mind when your application is denied and you might be able to turn a “no” into a “yes.”

Executive Summary

  • You should always follow up with the program if your application is denied.
  • Never forget that an initial rejection doesn’t mean your project dream is over.
  • Rejections are often the best way to learn more about the program and find out specifically what is needed for a successful application.

Applying for CleanTech grants doesn’t always work out the way you dreamed it would. While there are lots of programs out there, funding is often highly competitive and ultimately, a program will look for projects that best suit their intentions.

Receiving a denial does not mean that your project won’t work out, or–more importantly–that you aren’t going to receive the funding you applied for. This chapter will cover the main information to keep in mind when your application is denied and you might be able to turn a “no” into a “yes.”

Ask why

Many CleanTech programs have major budgets, are highly competitive, and therefore have many grant officers that are making decisions on applications. Regardless of the outlined requirements of a program, these approval decisions are not always consistent.

If you get denied we recommend that you follow up with the program as soon as possible. Sending an email to the listed contact asking for clarification on why your project didn’t merit funding is an excellent way to keep a relationship with the program and learn more about what adjudicators are looking for. In addition, asking the program to have another look at your application will generate more visibility for your project. Remember that it is absolutely critical to keep in good spirit with the program when you ask for justification for your denial. The strength of your relationship will go a long way in an attempt to be reassessed. 

Not every “No” is final

If nothing else is taken out of your application in the event of a denial, remember that a “no” doesn’t always mean your project is dead in the water. Many CleanTech programs accept applications on a rolling basis, and you are usually welcome to resubmit your application once it has been revised. In most cases, you can reach out to schedule a call with an adjudicator who can go over your application for you and provide clarity on what sections to direct your focus. A scheduled call with a program adjudicator should give you all the information needed to revise and redraft an application that has a much better chance of getting approved. 

Lessons taken from rejection

If you get a rejection on your application, stay positive. Remember that every denial provides a better opportunity to learn than an approval does. That is, if you get denied, you have the resources to reach out to the program, you can schedule a meeting with an adjudicator who will offer an in-depth look at your project and show you the sections you may have overlooked or the components that were unfavorable in your application. All of this information is undoubtedly key to future submissions and can give you a leg up over other applicants next time.

After you submit your application, you should make sure to keep a copy of the draft and all supporting documents used or referenced in the application. Doing so will allow you to keep the project in front of you throughout the review process, but it will also be extremely useful in the event that your application is denied. If you are rejected, it’s unlikely that your entire project needs to be thrown out. Most often in CleanTech applications, project proposals need only minor tweaks to receive an approval on the second try. Keeping a copy of all your hard work will make this second submission process much easier. 


Next Chapter – Can I get help securing clean tech grants?

Even though this guidebook provides lots of information for small businesses new to the CleanTech grant space, your main takeaway might be that securing grants is no easy task and getting approved for funding is just the beginning of the work.

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