There are a few key things to remember about how grant proposals are rated/scored during the review process:
•All grant professionals want as high of a success ratio as possible;
•There are many many many factors and external forces that will impact the ultimate result of your funding application outside the control of the grant professional.
Therefore, it is critical that you focus your energy and attention on those factors you CAN control in order to improve your grant seeking success.
How do you appropriately focus your energy you ask? I recommend that you think about how you can design a strong internal review prior to submission of an application. This is a critical step in federal applications in particular where scoring rubrics are consistently used in the review process.
The review process should/will look slightly different in each grant seeking organization as it needs to reflect the organization’s hierarchy of approval and also include a role for their collaborative partners.
I recommend that you take the following steps with each federal application prior to submission: create a mock scoring tool and process within your organization for each
1 – Establish a process and timeline for which individuals will review the process and when. Include internal stakeholders, organizational leadership, and collaborative partners in the process.
2 – Create a mock scoring tool to share with the individuals who will be part of the review process. Based the mock scoring tool on the information and scoring outline laid out within the NOFA/RFP.
3 – Provide each group of stakeholders with guidelines on how to use the tool and provide them with direction to not focus on grammar and wordsmithing, but rather on program design, consistency across sections, and confirming roles and responsibilities within the application.
4 – Allow for 3-5 business days for each review group to review the proposal against the mock scoring tool that you have created for them to score/comment on the proposal with. The different review groups sometimes overlap, and other times need to be run one after another to ensure complete agreement from the first group. Be sure to build in adequate time to your application calendar.
5 – Have a final individual or small internal group that does one final review for consistency throughout the proposal and to assist with any final grammar and wordsmithing.
If you are struggling with how to engage the numerous stakeholders in your organization and partner organizations effectively in the program design and application review process prior to the formal submission, let us know in the comment section below what it is that is a barrier for you.