Your program’s mission is to make a difference—whether it’s through empowerment, community transformation or to change lives for the better. But, this is no easy task and it can be a whirlwind of complexity.

The review and decision process can be challenging—both emotionally and operationally.

Which applicants should be funded? How will you decide? How will you minimize any bias and create a review system that is transparent and trustworthy and lifts your program’s mission and reputation?

Here are some best practices for finding and eliminating equity gaps in your grantmaking process:

Ensure you have a good application form

Before the review process even begins, it’s crucial that you have a strong foundation––an accessible, intuitive application that provides your reviewers with all the information they need to easily assess each application.

The more you control the assessment experience, the less room you leave to subjectivity. After all, you know your program best and are best suited to determine what to include in the review of your applications. It all starts with a well-planned application form.

Establish the questions you want applicants to answer and in what format you’d like for them to respond. These questions will define how your reviewers will make their decisions.

Make sure your review criteria is clear

It’s ideal to define your assessment criteria or scoring rubric soon after or at the same time as when you build your application. Why? This will allow you to align assessment criteria with your application criteria, making it easy for your reviewers to associate each piece of the application with a corresponding score.

If you have long-answer questions in your application, consider providing your applicants with a bulleted list that outlines the instructions and what they should include. This will of course help your applicants submit better quality applications, but it will also help your reviewers quickly isolate the specific details they need to score effectively.

Providing a consistent and predictable experience for your reviewers removes any inconsistencies. This allows the reviewers to know what to look for and where to find it and can improve their assessment experience.

Make your scoring criteria accessible

Make it simple for your reviewers and make sure they can log into your platform and quickly see what needs to be scored, when, and what the criteria are for each section of the application.

This means creating review assignments so that your reviewers are never searching for their next task. They can simply log in and review what’s next in their queue.

Make sure they don’t have to print stacks of paper applications or click between numerous websites or tabs to align assessment criteria with each application.

Provide all the information they need to review each application on one screen and make sure it’s mobile-friendly in case your reviewers need to access the assessment process on the go.

Manage conflicts of interest

Use recusal and abstention tools to allow reviewers to abstain or managers to recuse reviewers from scoring or deciding on any applications where there may be a potential conflict of interest.

Ensure equity through an anonymous review

Subjectivity can also be compromised by including personal information about an applicant, such as name, gender, education, or location. An easy way to combat this is to make applications anonymous. Show reviewers only the information they need to assess each application, reducing the risk of bias.

A successful review process equals successful outcomes

Making grant and funding decisions is never easy. With so many amazing applicants, it can be a difficult process for the most organized of programs.

But a streamlined review process can help you feel confident of your decisions, build your program’s reputation, and provide transparent guidelines on what your applicants can expect.

By creating a review process that cultivates equitable decision-making, you can add credibility and value to your grant or funding program.

Using a grant management platform with a robust user interface and end-to-end life cycle automation sets the foundation for many of the refinements you can make to your grant review process.

Grants United is an all-in-one solution encompassing all your needs, so you can carry out your grants mission of any size seamlessly on one platform.

Build and Accept Applications

Choose existing forms or customize your own form to fulfill your requirements, and view and manage all your existing forms on one screen.

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Manage your Application Process

Communicate with applicants and reviewers, view applicants in real-time, and manage the evaluation workflow to make sure your review team makes equitable and unbiased decisions.

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Grants United is the leading cloud-based solutions provider with a robust user interface and end-to-end life cycle automation. Maximize your efficiency, simplify complex processes, and improve the way you collaborate with our intuitive platform.