How are DFW’s program grantees selected?

A look at the work of our Program Selection Committee

By Janine Baumgartner and Susan Garrity

Members frequently ask how programs are selected for funding. We consider the selection of program grantees one of the most important decisions we make.  As with every important decision, there is a designated person or body and there is a process.

The decision making body is the Program Selection Committee or PSC.  Ten DFW members sit on the committee, serving terms of at least 2 years.  They have a wide range of backgrounds in law, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), non-profits, education, corporate logistics, and operations. These dedicated women understand the importance of their role and willingly give up 100+ hours to the process, twice a year.  They also pay their own travel and lodging expenses for the two face-to-face meetings each year.

The PSC meets in two cycles each year, corresponding to our grant application cycles. From April through August, decisions are made on applications for the first half of the following year.  The committee just completed the decision making process for programs to be funded January to June 2016.  The other cycle to select programs for the second half of the following year runs from October through February.

Each grant cycle has two phases. The first phase is the Letter of Intent (LOI), a brief online application submitted by prospective grantees about the scope of their project and organization. We typically receive between 70 and 90 LOIs for each cycle and the committee reviews, researches, discusses and evaluates each of these submissions. Applications that do not fulfill all of DFW’s mandatory requirements are eliminated from the process.

Out of all the qualifying LOIs, the PSC invites 15 organizations to submit a Full Application. This is a comprehensive, 20-page document that provides detailed information about the organization, its finances and leadership, the scope of the problem being addressed, program details including beneficiaries, methods, monitoring & evaluation, risks, and budget. The PSC conducts more intense research and evaluation at this stage.  It then holds a face-to-face (FTF) meeting at a designated location for three days of continued deliberation until committee members agree upon the top six programs to be funded.

Dr. Veena Khandke, DFW Program Director, oversees the PSC but does not vote on programs.   Following the FTF meeting, the program slate is sent to DFW’s Board of Directors. Dr. Khandke conducts Skype interviews with the finalists and notifies them of their selection before the programs are announced to DFW members and the public.