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.