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OVERVIEW: Deciding who will receive a grant

Who's going to make the decisions about who receives a grant, and how will they decide? Transparent decision-making structures and processes are essential to accountability.

You need a decision-making policy that takes into consideration:

  • Who is part of the decision-making chain? E.g. eligibility checkers, application assessors and final decision-makers?
  • Which decisions are made at which point in the chain? What are the deadlines?
  • Who makes the final decision on who will receive grants? Will the decision be made collectively by a board or council, or by an individual such as a minister or CEO?
  • What criteria must the decision-makers follow in making their decisions? Are these criteria different from the assessment criteria?
  • On what evidence will the final decision-makers base their judgement?
  • Can the decision-makers ask the assessment team for clarification or further information? Under what circumstances?
  • Can the decision-makers ask for information not included in the selection criteria and not reflected in promotion and application documents? Under what circumstances?
  • How will decisions be recorded?
  • Will the reasons for decisions be recorded? Will these reasons be made available to the grant applicant concerned?
  • Is the final decision truly final, or is there a review or appeal process? What is that process?
  • What is the process for justifying and recording decisions that fall outside the program guidelines?
  • If the decision-makers are unable to separate some applicants, how will they break the deadlock? Request more information? Make more than one grant available?
  • Who will be informed about the decisions? How?
  • Will the identity of the decision-makers be kept confidential or made public?

SmartyGrants TipSmartyGrants users: When you record decisions in SmartyGrants, you can also add notes about funding conditions, allocate funding against specific budgets, keep a tally of allocated funding, run reports on all of this, and much more. Learn more

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Beware of processes that might expose your decision makers to lobbying or post-decision complaints from disgruntled applicants. If necessary, provide coaching for them on how to deal with such approaches. Give your decision makers clear guidance about decision-making criteria at the outset.