Have you ever wondered how grants are awarded? As someone who has worked in various granting agencies, such as the Tustin Community Foundation, the City of Tustin and County of Orange Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) programs, and the Corporation for National and Community Service’s $1.5 billion grantmaking, I can share with you an eleven-step process.
1. Mission and Strategy Development: The foundation leadership establishes its mission, values, and strategic priorities. They determine the social or community issues they want to address and the outcomes they aim to achieve through philanthropy.
2. Grant Guidelines and Eligibility Criteria: The foundation leadership creates clear guidelines and eligibility criteria for potential grantees. They may include the geographic area served, the type of projects considered, the budget range, and the specific issues the foundation is interested in supporting.
3. Request for Proposals (RFP) or Open Application Process: The foundation may issue an RFP or have an open application process for interested nonprofit organizations. The RFP outlines the specific requirements and expectations for the grant application.
4. Application Submission: Nonprofit organizations interested in receiving funding submit grant applications, providing detailed information about their project or initiative. This includes their mission, goals, budget, expected outcomes, and how the proposed project aligns with the foundation’s priorities.
5. Initial Review and Screening: Foundation staff or review committees conduct an initial screening of the grant applications to ensure they meet the eligibility criteria and align with the foundation’s funding priorities. Some applications may only be accepted at this stage if they meet the basic requirements.
6. In-Depth Evaluation: Applications that pass the initial screening undergo a more thorough evaluation. Foundation staff or external experts may conduct site visits, interviews, and further analysis to assess the potential impact and feasibility of the proposed projects.
7. Decision Making: The foundation’s board or a grant review committee makes the final funding decisions based on the evaluation. They consider the alignment with the foundation’s mission, the potential for impact, the organization’s capacity to execute the project, and the available budget.
8. Grant Award: The selected organizations receive a formal grant award notification. The foundation may provide funding for the entire project or a partial budget based on the project’s scope and available resources.
9. Grant Agreement and Reporting: Before the funds are disbursed, the foundation and the grantee typically enter into a formal grant agreement outlining the terms and conditions of the grant. The grantee may also be required to submit periodic progress reports to update the foundation on the project’s status and outcomes.
10. Monitoring and Evaluation: The foundation monitors the progress of the projects it funds to ensure they are on track and achieving the desired outcomes. Ongoing communication between the foundation and the grantee helps address any challenges or changes that may arise during the project implementation.
11. Impact Assessment: After the project is completed, the foundation evaluates the impact of its funding on the targeted community or issue. This assessment informs future grant-making decisions and helps the foundation learn from its philanthropic efforts.