Five effective review modes for good grant decisions

by | Sep 17, 2020

Grants, scholarships and funding programs empower people, transform communities and change lives. But, behind the scenes – and long before funds are awarded– grantmakers have a big task at hand: determining just which initiatives to support.  

With so many deserving grantseekers and such little time available, it is crucial grantmakers can effectively and efficiently use the time they have while still making good grant decisions. 

Application assessment is a critical phase of the grant lifecycle. And that’s why Good Grants provides an entire suite of tools, featuring five powerful review modes that offer grantmakers both the flexibility to create an assessment process as unique as their grant program and the efficiency of a streamlined system so they can save time doing it. 

Here are some common ways grantmakers use the Good Grants review suite to make good grant decisions. 

1. Check for quality on grant applications

A funding program might receive many applications, and that’s great! But perhaps some applications don’t meet a program’s standards. These applications can be a drain on time and resources. To quickly assess whether applicants meet quality standards, grantmakers can create a qualifying round to run a quality check on all submitted applications. 

The review mode: Qualifying

Qualifying review round for Good Grants

The Qualifying review mode provides a quick overview of an entire application. Reviewers or program managers can simply scan the application and make a simple “pass/fail” decision.

Once this is done, the grant manager can move qualified applications to the next review round, and automatically send an email informing unqualified applicants of your decision not to progress their application further.

2. Provide in-depth grant assessment, due diligence and feedback 

Once a grant application is qualified, in-depth reviews of applications can commence. This process can be a time-consuming and tedious endeavour. Unlike a quick quality check, this assessment requires an in-depth study of the grantseeker’s background, references and grant proposal. 

The review mode: Scoring 

Scoring review mode in Good Grants

In the Scoring grant assessment mode, reviewers provide numerical scores on applications based on a set of scoring criteria. 

This review mode offers sophisticated assessment in a simple format. The entire application is on one clear page with simple drop-down selection boxes and clear spaces for comments and feedback. 

We call this mode ‘Scoring’ as it is typically used with a relatively small field of reviewers who usually wield a wealth of relevant knowledge and experience in the field. All applications are evaluated under the same set of criteria, ensuring fair and equal assessment. 

To help alleviate any time-consuming review experiences, Good Grants provides review panel management to streamline the review process and assign applications as appropriate across the review team. 

Within the scoring review mode, reviewers can leave feedback on individual applications, which provides an additional value for the grantseeker. For example, a school in an under-resourced area might apply for a grant, but might not meet all the criteria a grantmaker has established. Feedback can then be a valuable resource for the school’s future application and steps forward in their journey. 

3. Allow for unbiased consensus-based reviews

For programs with large assessment panels, or where reviewers need to reach consensus on an application decision, it can be a long and difficult process to eventuate on a decision. Especially if there are polarised opinions amongst the review group.

The review mode: Top pick 

Top pick review mode in Good Grants

Using Top pick, reviewers independently choose and rank their favourite applications from a field of applicants. These rankings are then combined using the single transferable vote method and an overall rank is applied to applications. This is extremely useful for facilitating group consensus quickly and easily.

For the Top pick grant review mode, the grant manager controls the number of choices a reviewer can make. Then, the reviewers pick their favourite applications in order of preference. 

4. Include the community in the grantseeker assessment

For some grant or funding programs, the decision-making process includes community or stakeholder input. Often, this type of feedback demands a separate system to be employed and can result in shuffling entries from one system to another, resulting in wasted time, lost entries and data protection missteps.

The review mode: Voting

With the Voting grant review mode, grantmakers can open the applications to engage a wider internal audience or even the public. 

It is a straight-forward and enjoyable review mode, where participants allocate votes to their preferred applications.  

The voters can easily view all the information on an entry, switch between categories and quickly vote for their favourites. 

This review method can be employed after a qualifying round to ensure only specific applications are voted on or can even be used as a qualifying round to get the public’s help on shortlisting applications. 

5. Showcase the entries for easy group assessment 

Some assessment approaches require a round table review/overview of all entries at the same time, with review panels discussing the entire application pool before diving into more rigorous methods of assessment. This can be a useful orientation into applications, but without the right tool, methodology or structure can result in lost time, lost entries and reams of application printouts across the floor.  

The review mode: Gallery

A Gallery is a view-only mode which can be used for both reviewers and the general public. 

This is a popular option for when a group or panel is required to assess each application together, perhaps in a room where the applications are displayed on a large screen while reviewers discuss them together, one-by-one, or in conjunction with a separate review mode in front of them. 

Galleries are also ideal when a grantmaker wants to display archived applications – a great way to show previously funded programs and their outcomes. 

Good grant outcomes from careful, considered review

Good Grant’s five powerful review modes are easy to configure and simple to use for grant reviewers. They can be implemented as standalone review methods or chained together for an even more robust decision-making experience. 

Take a free 14-day trial of Good Grants to see the review modes in action or book a call with a consultant to learn more.