Choosing a Grant Reviewer


The grants your organization offers can make huge improvements in communities and lives, but how do you decide which proposals to fund? Once you’ve got the grant proposals rolling in, you need someone who can sift through them and separate the wheat from the chaff. That’s where a grant reviewer comes in.

A grant reviewer is someone who reads grant proposals and identifies whether the grant applicant is qualified or not. They ultimately decide if an applicant may be worthy of receiving your grant. But how do you choose a good grant reviewer? Here are a few things to look for.

The role of a grant reviewer

First, let’s go into a bit more detail about what exactly a grant reviewer does. This is the person, or persons, who will read over all or some of the grant applications that your organization receives and decide which ones warrant attention. Some applications will truly stand out, while others may be well under-qualified. The grant reviewer can sort through these and make sure only the very best proposals are brought to the attention of whoever makes the decisions about awarding grants. Assemble a list of questions that will lead you to someone who best fits into your organization’s mission.

The skills

What skills should a good grant reviewer have? To begin with, they need to be able to read quickly. Getting through a number of proposals takes time and effort, and you need to have someone on your team who can do this efficiently. They also need to have good reading comprehension, as some grant proposals can be complex. Another important skill is the ability to think logically and make hard decisions. The story about someone needing a grant to fund an arts initiative may be appealing, but should that be chosen over the grant that could save lives? Your grant reviewer should be able to make that call.

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The good

A good grant reviewer can manage their time well, read through the proposals (or at least read enough to have a general idea of what is being proposed), and are knowledgeable, if not experts, in the relevant field. They can navigate through at least the most basic lingo of the field and are able to explain it to others. A good grant reviewer can make the difficult choices regarding which proposals move forward and which do not. They also know how to use technology to work for them, increasing their efficiency and enhancing their relationship with the applicants.Grant review

The bad

On the other hand, a bad grant reviewer takes time to read through every single detail of every single proposal, thereby wasting more time than they spend on actual possibilities. They don’t fully understand the field they’re reading proposals for and can’t explain the ideas presented. A bad reviewer will find themselves unable to make choices to narrow down the proposals and will present the organization with a stack of proposals that is not much smaller from where it began.

The right fit

Ultimately, as your organization’s grant manager, only you can determine who fits the needs of your organization. The right fit for the position of grant reviewer will meet or exceed all the qualifications that your team decides are important. Maybe you want them to be well read in the appropriate field, or maybe you want them to offer a layman’s point of view. Perhaps you want an expert, or you’d prefer someone new and fresh. No matter what your requirements, don’t forget about the use of software for grant management to help ease your process.

Hiring a good grant reviewer can make the grant review process much easier for your organization. The review can be left to a single person or to a committee, depending on how large your search is, but ideally, you’ll have at least one person who has the sole responsibility of reviewing the grant proposals that come in. That person will save your organization much time and energy as they help find the right proposals for your organization to fund.

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Rachel Mindell

Rachel Mindell is Senior Editor for Submittable's Marketing Team. She also writes and teaches poetry. You can find Rachel's creative work here: