Get the Inside Skinny from a Reviewer’s Handbook

The Grants Advisors have obtained a reference guide used by one of the five largest foundations to train its grant reviewers. It’s probably similar to guidelines most major foundations use and provides insight into what grantmakers are looking for.

Follow the tips to tailor your proposal. In some cases, reviewers use the questions to simply determine whether or not something was provided. In others, reviewers are looking for signs the applicant understands the foundation’s agenda. Make sure your proposal can correctly answer the topical questions below and that you are in the same philanthropic ballpark

  • What is the nature of the problem? How did it start? Is the applicant’s analysis sound and convincing? Are the statistics used to describe the problem accurate and clear? Why should the problem be addressed Now and why should the foundation be the one to do it?
  • What are the applicant’s mission and agenda? What are the key problems the applicant addresses and is it relevant to this particular project? With what other organizations or government agencies does the applicant work closely to carry out its mission effectively?
  • How is the applicant governed? What mechanisms has the board established to monitor the success of projects and evaluate the priorities and agenda of the organization? If not a 501 (c)(3), than does the applicant have a fiscal agent? To what extent has the board helped to develop the current proposal?
  • What are the applicant’s sources of support? Have they changed over the last few years? Has the availability of funds or the source of funding affected the emphasis of its program? What role do particular donors play in advising or monitoring the applicant’s programs?
  • How does the applicant expect to meet its objectives? What is the applicant’s approach to the problem? How does its approach differ from that of others who are also addressing the problem?
  • What specific strategies does the applicant employ? Are they clear and internally consistent? Are they innovative? Has the applicant developed a detailed plan for implementing the strategies? Are there external factors that could derail the project from its inception or mid-way (e.g., a government’s refusal to permit access to a proposed research site)?
  • What are the proposed activities? Are they feasible? Is the plan well-defined and detailed enough to be carried out? Has the applicant contacted or worked with other experts in the field to shape its plan of action? If not, would references to organizations or individuals who share its interest in the problem or who have experience with the proposed strategy be useful.

Grant Advisors Frank Klimko and Ray Sweeney love to hear from members of the GA community. Contact them through their website or phone: (410) 934-7652. Or you can subscribe to the mailing list and never miss a funding tip or related posting. It’s free.

About Frank Klimko

Frank Klimko is a nationally known journalist, grants expert and speech writer/speaker. He has years of experience helping nonprofits devise lists of the right funding opportunities and secure funding from these foundations and corporate entities. Clients have focused on an array of areas including child care, homeless, hunger and K-12 education. Additionally, he is a Freedom of Information Act expert, who has helped numerous clients with securing proprietary information from the federal government. Currently, Frank Klimko writes the Children & Youth Funding Report and Private Grants Alert, which are Washington DC-based publications. CYF is a daily publication covering Congress, the Education Dept. and the various federal regulatory agencies. PGA, another daily publication, covers the world of private philanthropy.
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