Grant reviewers are pillars of the organizations and foundations they are affiliated with because of the critical decisions they make in funding. The grants they approve are more often than not life-changing for the communities and applicants they serve.
Being a grant reviewer has its perks, but it can be overwhelming. With hundreds of requests to review, assess and score, the decisions you make can significantly impact the organizations, applicants, and foundations that are in need of support.
Beyond meeting the criteria set for the role, grant reviewers are expected to strike a good balance by evaluating each application thoroughly while practicing objectivity, consideration, and empathy – all while assisting their organization in choosing grant recipients that actually make a difference.
Let’s have a look at these best practices from experienced grantmakers to help you get started as a reviewer:
Take an in-depth look at the proposal
Practice due diligence and learn as much as you can about the grant you’re reading for. Check out their history, initiatives, philosophies, activities, and even past awarded grants. Taking this important step will help you make a well-informed decision.
A well-written proposal is not exactly what you’re looking for. Focus on finding the best ones that align with your organization’s mission.
Here are some guide questions you can refer to:
- Will this proposal be beneficial for the communities you serve?
- Does it include good ideas and feasible plans for execution?
- Will it make a difference?
- Is the proposal innovative and impactful?
Take the strain out of reviewing and accepting grant applications. This grants management software solution from CommunityForce allows you to choose from existing forms or customize your own to fulfill your requirements while viewing and managing all your existing forms on one screen. Add eligibility screening and accept as many as 50,000 applications in less than 30 minutes.
Learn your scoring rubric
When assessing a potential grant, reviewers refer to a scoring rubric or matrix based on a set of guidelines or criteria. Scoring rubrics ensure reviewers are scoring all the aspects needed to evaluate an application.
It’s equally helpful in ensuring reviewers are being objective, makes summarizing scores so much easier, and gives each reviewer’s analysis equal weight. When clouded by biases and discrimination, a scoring rubric gives you the guidance you need to keep you right on track.
Reach a well-rounded and unbiased decision with this online scoring rubric from CommunityForce. View comments from other committee members and see funding recommendations for a comprehensive yet convenient evaluation process.
Check for eligibility
Does the applicant qualify for your grant program at all? Going through applications that don’t meet your organization’s criteria can be a waste of time and resources. Common prerequisites include having nonprofit status, being located in a specific geographic area, or being of a certain size.
Adding a pre-application eligibility step to your grant application review process can save reviewers and applicants valuable time.
Review the whole application
As soon as an application is deemed eligible, read through it thoroughly before scoring. Allot a reasonable time for each and take note of strengths and inadequacies.
Keeping an open mind is essential in reaching a well-rounded decision. Underperforming grant reviewers tend to review all proposals in a single sitting to get the job over with resulting in poor evaluations.
Making productive use of your time and managing your tasks realistically is the best way to go.
Collaborate, comment and communicate
Leave clear, concise, and specific comments when reviewing grant applications. Keep them constructive, unbiased and align them with your numerical scoring. Giving actionable advice is also recommended.
If your review is only an initial part of the grant selection process, you may need to back up your position later in a group meeting or later stage of decision making.
Collaborate with admins and other reviewers for a seamless review process. View comments and communicate with committee members and determine the outcome all on the same platform. Say goodbye to multiple apps to communicate, collaborate, and review with the right grant management software.
Revisit your reviews
Gaining a new perspective and initially setting the bar too high happens from time to time so it pays to take a few steps back to check for consistency and impartiality. Allocate time for this task at the end of the review process before making your final decision.
Finding all the information you need for your assigned tasks in one go is just what you need to stay on top of your game. Analyze your review progress, view scores, and filter them accordingly in a single, intuitive dashboard.
Reviewers are highly valued contributors to grant-giving programs, they give you that sense of security and certainty that grants are only awarded to the most deserving applicants who fit your organization and fuel positive change. Deliver the best outcomes and promote integrity with the best practices shared here.
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