In order to review proposals and narrow the field of candidates, it is important to have pre-defined evaluation criteria in place, so that all proposals are reviewed according to the same metrics/standards. If a proposal includes satisfactory responses to the following nine elements, that’s a good indicator that the organization has carefully thought through the project and will be a great grantee partner

1. Organization Background & Experience

Has this organization run similar programs in the past—similar budgets, focus area, geography? Does their previous experience set them up for success with the proposed program/reason for investment?

2. Financial health of organization

Check the nonprofit’s financial records and ensure that there are no red flags that could indicate this may be an unwise investment.

3. Detailed Budget

Does the proposal include a detailed line-item budget? Does the line-item budget include reasonable costs (meaning neither inflated nor underestimated) for staff and program-related expenses?

4. Program Description

This should be more than a few sentences with high level goals. The proposal should include a detailed description of how the program will be executed, how exactly the pieces fit together to achieve the desired outcome, and of the different phases involved in implementing and running the program.

5. Program Timeline

The proposal should include a general timeline of when the various parts of the program will be executed, and how the program will ultimately come together. This timeline should serve to help GC, as the grant maker, to monitor the progress of the grant and ensure it’s on track with hitting various milestones. Of course, this is knowing that even the best laid plans are subject to change.

6. Program Partners

If the nonprofit will be working with other partners (i.e., nonprofit, academic, government, even other grant makers), are these partners experienced in managing the kind of program in which GC would be planning to invest? Are they subject matter experts or invested in the target community? What specific roles will the partners play, and how will their activities be tracked? If there aren’t other partners, are you comfortable that the one organization can fully implement the program on its own?

7. Measurement Plan

The proposal should incorporate an appropriate plan to monitor and measure the program outcomes. Assuming this is being implemented internally (due to the focus on small NPs/organizations), do the staff tasked with tracking results have the appropriate knowledge and experience to accurately do this?

8. Sustainability Plan

Has the organization specified a plan to obtain continued funding and/or an ability to self-sustain the program after the grant period has ended? In other words, is the nonprofit already thinking about what happens after this grant?

9. Communications Plan

Does the proposal outline an appropriate communications plan as part of the overall program, to promote awareness and gain buy-in from the target population? And separately, does the proposal outline how the organization will publicize the program, share learnings within the community, etc.?

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