Some of you may not know this about me, but I actually started my career as the Program Officer at the Michigan Women’s Foundation. I spent my days working with our two grantmaking committees (the Foundation has both Mini Grants of $5,000 or less and Social Impact Grants of up to $50,000 at the time I was there) and leading the Young Women for Change program which gave grantmaking programs of young women would grant a total of $20,000 into their respective community each year. It was rewarding yet hard work. There were always far more amazing requests than there were dollars available. The committee members were incredibly passionate about the work of the Foundation and the work of the grantees and would go above and beyond by providing guidance and support to grantees after site visits or after a grant period was over. The grantees were (and many still are) doing incredible work throughout the state.
That experience helped create the foundation for DH Leonard Consulting 17 years ago and is where our tagline, “Don’t Let Grants Stress You Out,” came from.
Perhaps you have served as a reviewer in your career as well, whether on staff, as a peer reviewer, or as a community panel member. It is stressful for all involved, whether the stress of the character-counted application to stand out in a sea of applications or the stress of the grantmaker trying to ensure the greatest impact with their funding resources possible. The experience on both sides of the table is also incredibly rewarding, whether seeing the impact of the dollars your organization granted at work or seeing the impact of the dollars you secured at work. Both are creating change and positive impact in the community.
For those of you who have not had the opportunity *yet* to serve as a reviewer, here are five tips to help you find opportunities to become a grant reviewer:
- Reach out to your local/regional United Way to see if they are accepting community members into their review process.
- Reach out to your local/regional Community Foundation to see if they are accepting community members onto their committees or boards.
- Consider becoming a reviewer for the Unfunded List.
- Reach out to the state agency(s) that are best aligned with your experience to ask about the process for applying to be a peer reviewer for their grants.
- Reach out to the federal agency(s) that are best aligned with your experience to ask about the process for applying to be a peer reviewer for their grants. The best place to start? Google the agency name and “peer review” or the agency name and “grant review” to find what their processes may be. A perfect example? The Department of Justice has a webpage dedicated to describing the peer review process, who is appropriate to be one, and how to become one.
Have you served as a reviewer? Leave your experience below!