review committee FAQs
Grant Review Committee (GRC)
Q. What is the time commitment for a member of the GRC?
A. GRC members spend approximately 20 hours preparing and meeting during the entire grant review cycle. The GRC commitment starts with a ninety-minute virtual training meeting in January. Your GRC will meet four times between the end of January and mid-May. Each meeting lasts two hours. The committees will also attend three site visits in April which last approximately one hour. In terms of preparation work, it may take one and a half hours to read through the grant applications prior to Meetings #1 and #2. There is about 20 minutes of reading required to prepare for Meetings #3 and #4. We also recommend that members review the grant applications before each site visit.
Q. Why can’t I call into an in person GRC meeting and participate on speakerphone?
A. Unfortunately, it would be too challenging for someone listening on a speaker phone to hear and participate in the GRC discussion. If you know you are going to miss one or more of your in-person GRC meetings, we suggest you consider signing up for a GRC that meets virtually.
Q. Why aren’t there GRC meetings in the western or northern suburbs?
A. Although we do have several members who live in the western and northern suburbs of Chicago who have expressed interest in forming suburban GRCs, the Board has discussed the logistics and has decided it is not feasible. We think it would be difficult to find 20+ suburban members from the same area, all willing to sign up for a GRC meeting on the same day at the same time. Additionally, we would need to find two GRC Chairs and FRC Leaders from the same area.
Q. Why are nonprofit applicants not allocated to each GRC according to their focus area so we can review the same types of nonprofits?
A. We ask the nonprofit applicants to self-select one of our five focus areas (Culture, Health, Education, Family & Sustainability), but we receive uneven numbers of applicants for each focus area. We believe it would be inequitable for some committees to review most of the applications, leaving other committees with too few to review. When we allocate the applications to the GRCs, we consider the size of the organization and their focus area before we divide them equally among the eight GRCs. If the applicant has applied the year before, we ensure it goes to a different GRC for review, so that the women who join the same committee each year can review new applicants.
Q. If a GRC meeting is changed from in-person to virtual because one of the Co-Chairs is ill, can we change the next virtual meeting to in-person to make up for it?
A. No. Our GRC schedule is set in December before members sign-up. Some of the GRC chairs and members may be out of town during a scheduled virtual meeting so they would be unavailable for an in-person meeting.
Q. Why is the deadline to sign up for a GRC so early (i.e., two weeks before meetings begin)?
A. After the sign-up deadline, there are many steps required before the GRC meetings can begin. First, members’ preferences and conflicts of interest are checked before they are assigned to a committee. Then, GRC Co-Chairs must set up their email rosters and send out welcome letters. Additionally, access to our grant application software needs to be assigned to each GRC member so they can review the applications a week before the meetings begin.
Financial Review Committee (FRC)
Q. What is the role of the FRC?
A. FRC is tasked with performing financial due diligence on the nonprofit applicants that are selected to move forward in the grant cycle by the Grant Review Committees (GRCs). The FRC works in conjunction with the respective GRCs to ensure that only financially stable organizations advance in the grant review process. The committee is composed of Financial Review Leaders, who are experienced in reviewing the applicants, and Reviewers who observe and learn our financial review process.
Q. What qualifications are required to join the FRC?
A. FRC members should be comfortable reviewing financial statements and analyzing general financial performance. They should also be proficient in using Excel spreadsheets. While experience in accounting and finance is helpful, a solid general business background will also provide the necessary skills.
Q. What is the monthly time commitment for a member of the FRC?
A. FRC is comprised of both experienced Leaders and Reviewers who are newer to the FRC process. February is the FRC’s busiest month, requiring FRC Leaders to spend about 9 hours (spread out over the month) attending training, performing their initial financial reviews, and attending a GRC meeting. In March, they spend roughly 5 hours conducting a deeper financial review and attend another GRC meeting. In April, approximately six hours is spent working on reports, attending a virtual FRC meeting and attending site visits. In May, FRC Leaders will spend less than three hours preparing for, and participating in, the final GRC meeting to select the grant finalists. FRC reviewers are required to attend a virtual training and a virtual FRC group meeting. They must also learn the FRC process and review the financial reports of the Leaders before the meeting. FRC Reviewers have the option to attend GRC meetings.