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Competitive grant rounds are a multi-layer concept. Lots of planning goes into consideration when in the beginning stages of implementing a grant round at your community foundation. Some ideas to take into consideration:
-know your budget and the flexibility of what you have available to spend. Only start competitive grant rounds when you have important administrative costs covered and feel stable in your foundation.
-set your available amount. This will help the committee understand what is available when reviewing applications.
-have a framework for your foundation’s priority areas. What is important to your board and community at large? This allows for you to have strong areas of focus that you want to help with in your community.
-create a strong advisory board that is diverse in a multitude of ways. This should include some board members and also community members. This allows for diverse review and opinions. However, all committee members should have a neutral mindset to allow for difference of opinion at the table.
-set your guidelines: what range for size? What are the geographical areas allowed to apply? What do you NOT fund? Do you have any favorable considerations? What are the deadlines…be realistic!
-Set up how you want the review process to go. What questions do you want your applicants to answer? What information is important to your board to ask grant seekers? How often do you want to offer this grant round…once a year…or more?
-Be clear with your process once you have decided the organization of it all. Work as a team to completely agree on the process and stick to your guidelines.
-Be confidential. All committee members MUST sign a confidentiality agreement. Information should not be public information. In addition, you must be confidential as to who is on the committee so they are not solicited by grant seekers.
-Be upfront with your grant seekers, stick to the guidelines. Be upfront with the process, what we fund and do not fund. Do NOT make exceptions to the guidelines. Do not share information about other grant applicants and do not share information with others until final agreements are signed and all grantees have been notified.
-Notify ALL applicants! Don’t leave anybody wondering. Offer advice for the future, however it is NOT the job of the funder to teach grantees how to write a grant, cost allocate, etc.
These are just some preliminary ideas in the process of considering the implementation of competitive grant rounds. What thoughts and advice do you have? What do you include in your competitive grant round to have it run successfully? What has worked and not worked for you?
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