The value of feedback: another way to give back to grantseekers

by | Mar 8, 2021

There is a lot of hard work that goes into applying for a grant. Your grantseekers are tirelessly committed to their purpose, and often are applying to more than one grant or funding program for support or assistance.

More than likely, they will not be selected for every grant they seek. So, what can you, as the grantmaker, offer these applicants to help them in their journey?

The answer is often overlooked yet simple and meaningful: feedback—a constructive critique from your reviewers to help applicants develop their proposals and further their mission.

But how you offer it, the language you use and the method used to present it is important. Why? Because it can either inspire your applicants toward improvement and success or, conversely, de-motivate them from applying to your program again in the future.

Here are a few key points to consider when providing feedback to grantseekers who have taken the time to engage with your grant or funding program.

Providing feedback on grant review

The language of feedback

The language your reviewers use in providing feedback is important because it directly influences the value of the feedback and whether your applicants can benefit from it.

If the language is too vague or summary, it will provide no value. If the feedback only highlights problems or errors, it can demotivate the applicant. And if the language is too complimentary or flattering, it won’t help applicants grow.

Feedback should be constructive and detailed, highlighting both strengths and weaknesses of the application, and well as areas of improvement. It should be meaningful for your applicant. Will they be able to take the feedback and effectively improve their application or proposal in the future? 

When it comes to language, advise your reviewers to avoid overly critical words and phrases, such as:

  • But
  • Actually
  • No offence
  • If I were you
  • You should
  • Never
  • Always

Usually, feedback is provided in written form. But, you could also consider verbal feedback, where your reviewers provide a critique through an audio or video recording. Granted, this could be more of a time commitment for your reviewers, but it would be ideal for smaller groups of applicants, or perhaps your short-listed applications. 

How to instruct your reviewers on providing grant feedback

Before your reviewers begin any scoring or assessment, provide a framework for their feedback. Ensure the scoring criteria is clear so your reviewers understand what type of feedback is requested. In your reviewing instructions, you can stress the importance of providing comprehensive qualitative feedback to the applicants.

Consider providing your reviewers with the following tips:  

  • Provide both areas of strength and areas for improvement on the application. 
  • Be critical, but constructive. The most effective feedback raises questions and considerations without demoralising your applicants. 
  • Provide high-quality feedback that will challenge the applicant to improve.
  • Be specific so the applicants can take away actionable steps to improve.  
  • Provide feedback in a reasonable time. Immediately after reviewing works best since the application will be fresh in the mind of your reviewers. 

Feedback: good for applicants, good for your program

Feedback is an important value add for your program applicants. It can help them grow and improve future grant applications. 

But it’s also a great tool to drive your program’s growth and reputation. The feedback your program provides can help individuals and organisations make solid steps toward support and funding.

And this value can serve as an attractive driving factor for program application. Providing written feedback will ensure that your program applicants will receive a key takeaway—no matter the application outcome.

Learn how you can use Good Grants to provide your reviewers with an easy platform to assess, review and provide feedback for your grantseekers. Sign up for a 14-day free trial today.