What is your organization’s process for reviewing grant applications? Whether you run a small, local organization that provides grants to deserving individuals or groups in your community or a national foundation, having a fair, efficient, and transparent grant review process is essential to building trust with both constituents and applicants. Here are seven tips to help you create such a process for your group.
7 Best Practices for a Grant Review Process
If your grant review process could use some tweaks, the following best practices can shape it into the best it can be. With these tips, you’ll ensure a fair process that helps you choose the best recipients.
- Create a detailed rubric
A well-written and detailed rubric ensures all reviewers on the team will use the same criteria for evaluating applications. It helps ensure objectivity and fair scoring on the key points required in the grant application. Define the objective and each layer of the rubric, and detail how the scoring impacts the overall selection.
- Be transparent with applicants
Offer all applicants the same details. Publish them publicly and ensure everyone can attend any briefings or question and answer periods, if applicable. Share details of the review process and the selection criteria so applicants feel like they’ve been treated fairly.
- Create a balanced review team
Make sure your review team includes a diverse mix of people who can fairly and honestly review the applications while adhering to the rubric. A diverse mix of ages, genders, and cultural/societal perspectives honors your organization’s commitment to equity. Communicate the goals of the process clearly and ensure all voices are heard during discussions.
- Hide information
Hide information that may unfairly persuade the scoring. Names, genders, and similar information may be safely hidden by creating a numerical key that assigns an identification number to each application. By hiding identifiable information, you help ensure a neutral, balanced, and fair review.
- Build consensus
When there are disagreements—and there are sure to be at least some—work hard to listen to one another on the review team. Build consensus by finding common ground. Use the rubric thoroughly and rely upon it to guide any discussions.
- Create a numerical scoring system
Whether you average the scores from the rubric or use a weighted average, a numerical scoring system makes it much easier to select recipients without allowing unconscious bias to creep into the selection process.
- Use software to manage grant applications
Software has come a long way, and cloud software enables nonprofits to affordably tap into powerful systems that can make tasks such as grant management much easier. There are many benefits to using a digital process: clear communications, easier sharing of documents, streamlined review process, and reducing manual tasks. By using software to manage the grant review process, you’re able to focus more on the quality of the applications and less on the process itself.
A fair, honest, ethical, and equitable grant review process builds your organization’s reputation in the community.
Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at (206) 605-3113 for more information.