Assessing numerous applicants and choosing a winner of your organization’s grant may be too big a task for one person. A grant review committee can be a useful way to sort through an influx of applicants and get a variety of perspectives.
But who should be included on your committee? There are several helpful factors to consider when forming your review committee, including the review process itself, the goal of the grant review committee and the knowledge and experience necessary for committee members.
Begin with the End in Mind
Before you begin searching for committee members, you must first determine what sort of grant review criteria they will use to approve or deny the grants. By determining the criteria you want them to use, you can work backward to figure out exactly what you’ll be looking for in a grant review committee member. Some things to consider are, will every member have an equal say? Will they report to a head member who makes the final decision? These questions will ultimately determine what personalities and strengths you will be looking for in committee members.
The next step will be to determine what background and experience you want in your review committee. What requirements should the committee members meet in order to be considered?
You could look for people who are experts in their field or who have previous experience serving on a grant committee. You may want people who are relatively unfamiliar with grants and the application process or those who have been serving on committees for years. You can search for carefully vetted professionals or take applications for volunteers.
Whatever the characteristics, outlining the qualities of an ideal committee member is a critical step.
Depending on the field of the grant you’re providing, you may need grant review committee members who have done research in the relevant sciences. Perhaps a social work grant requires the input of a sociologist or social worker. A medical research grant committee could benefit from having a member who is knowledgeable about medicine.
On the other hand, it could be beneficial to have someone with minimal knowledge on a topic, in order to ensure that all the grant proposals can be easily explained to a layperson. Either way, the amount of knowledge that a potential committee member has on a topic is an important consideration.
How much experience do you want your committee to have in choosing applicants? You can pick fresh new volunteers for a new perspective or people who have been on grant committees before for their experience and wisdom.
Perhaps you’ll decide to get a mix of experienced and new volunteers for a diversity of perspectives as well as training the new volunteers to be effective committee members.
No matter which way you decide to go, the level of experience across your committee needs to be consistent with what your organization decided on early in the process.
The committee members must know what their goal is. Will they be the ones making the final decision of who gets the grant? Will they be presenting their top choices to the director or another leader?
By informing the committee members early on the expectations for their performance, you can prepare them for making their final decision. Throughout the entire process, the committee, once formed, should be kept in the loop regarding its requirements and your organization’s expectations. This will make the members more effective, happier, and more likely to return as part of a committee in the future.
Once you’ve chosen your committee members, you ought to equip them to be effective. Grant management software can help your grant committee members communicate both among themselves and with others, organize the proposals and information, and disperse all the necessary information to the rest of your organization.
A good software program can make the difference between an effective committee and one that is constantly asking for direction and assistance. Equip the members of your newly-formed grant review committee with the tools they need to succeed.