Demystifying the Grant Review Process: What Happens After You Submit Your Proposal

Understanding How Funders Evaluate and Make Decisions About Grants


Submitting a grant proposal can be a nerve-wracking experience, as you eagerly await the funding decision that could make or break your project. Understanding the grant review process can help alleviate some of this anxiety and give you valuable insights into how funders evaluate and make decisions about grants. In this post, we'll demystify the grant review process, shedding light on what happens after you submit your proposal and offering tips for success.

Initial screening and eligibility check
Once you submit your grant proposal, the funding organization will conduct an initial screening to ensure it meets their eligibility criteria, guidelines, and submission requirements. Proposals that do not meet these criteria may be rejected without further consideration.

Internal review
Funding organizations often have an internal review process, where staff members review and evaluate proposals. They may assess the proposal's alignment with the organization's mission and funding priorities, as well as its overall quality, clarity, and feasibility.

External peer review
Many funders enlist the help of external subject matter experts, who conduct a peer review of the proposals. These experts evaluate the proposals based on their knowledge of the field and the specific criteria established by the funder. They provide feedback, scores, or rankings that help inform the funding organization's decision-making process.

Panel review or committee meeting
In some cases, funding organizations convene a panel or committee to discuss the proposals and the feedback from the external peer review. This panel may include staff members, external experts, and sometimes representatives from the target community. They deliberate on the merits of each proposal, taking into account the reviewer feedback, and make recommendations for funding.

Final decision-making
The final funding decision is typically made by the funding organization's leadership, board of directors, or a designated decision-making body. They consider the input from the internal review, external peer review, and panel discussions, as well as factors such as available funding and strategic priorities.

Notification and feedback
Once the funding decision is made, the funding organization will notify applicants of the outcome. Successful applicants may receive an award letter outlining the terms and conditions of the grant, while unsuccessful applicants may receive feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of their proposal.

Revisions and resubmissions
If your proposal is not funded, don't be discouraged. Take the feedback you receive from the funding organization and use it to revise and strengthen your proposal. Many funders allow resubmissions, and your chances of success may improve with each revision.


Understanding the grant review process can help you better tailor your proposal to meet the expectations of funders and improve your chances of success. By being aware of what happens after you submit your proposal, you can gain valuable insights into the evaluation process and make more informed decisions as you develop and refine your grant proposals. Keep learning, keep improving, and remember that persistence is key in the competitive world of grant funding.

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