2020 Grant Review Volunteer Team


THANK YOU for volunteering to review applications for The Greater Sum’s third year of grants to US nonprofits! The applicants who are selected in this first round will go on to do a virtual pitch, and 6-8 will receive both financial support and volunteer SME advice throughout 2020. Use THIS LINK to sign up to review applications. 


Our application process identifies organizations that are working to solve important problems in new ways. This first-round review asks reviewers to quickly assess the value and viability of solutions being proposed. We’ll dive deeper with our finalists to learn more about what makes their approach different from current work in their fields, and to evaluate the financial and operational health of their organizations. 

Successful applicants typically fall into one of four categories - you’ll find examples of all of these in our 2018 cohort.. 

1. Truly early-stage organizations, just beginning their work but demonstrating promising 


2. Organizations who have established their operation and are preparing to expand.

3. Organizations who are comfortable with their growth trajectory but prepared to teach other nonprofits how to implement their innovative practices through training, sharing curriculum, etc. 4. Established nonprofits (or coalitions) who are expanding their services to fill an unmet need with an innovative solution. 

In this first round, you’ll consider (based on the information provided in the applications and your own background knowledge/critical thinking) four key questions: 

1. Does the applicant put forward an innovative solution to a significant problem?

2. Is the solution scalable?

3. Is it feasible?

4. Will the organization’s outcomes be measurable? 

You’ll answer these four questions for each of the applications that you review, along with more qualitative questions about your enthusiasm for each project and whether you believe Greater Sum funding and support would lead to project success. The Greater Sum Board of Directors will use reviewer scores (plus the notes you’re invited to provide) to select our Pitch Round Finalists. 


Last year we added a section to the evaluation form where reviewers can share information directly with the applicants you review. This was very well received by applications - your feedback was helpful and appreciated. You’re not required to do so, but if you would like to share notes, questions, resources, contacts, or volunteer to assist -- this is the place! (Please note that sharing suggestions for work is not helpful in the same way that sharing a resource or member of your network is helpful. Nonprofit leaders have been known to gnash teeth, mutter obscenities, or reach for stress toys after being told that “I bet Oprah would love to fund your work!”) 


The Greater Sum’s conflict of interest policy prohibits SMEs from reviewing the application of any organization you or a family member are affiliated with. This means that if you, your spouse, your ancestors, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, brothers, sisters, and spouses of same have any financial interests or loyalties to an organization, you should recuse yourself from scoring that organization’s application. That loyalty may take the form of working for an organization, serving as a board member for the organization, or having another form of financial interest in the organization’s success. A copy of our full conflict of interest policy is attached for your information. 

You will have two opportunities to excuse yourself from reviewing individual applications or categories of applications. You are also welcome to excuse yourself from reviewing applications which do not represent a conflict under The Greater Sum’s policy, but represent a conflict under your employer’s policy or your individual ethics. When you sign up to review applications you may disclose any known conflicts of interest. When you receive applications to review, you may recuse yourself from reviewing any individual application(s) which represent a previously unknown conflict of interest. 

The Greater Sum’s confidentiality policy requires reviewers to maintain confidentiality regarding the details of applicants’ proposals, the review process, and outcomes of the review process not yet made public. A draft copy of the volunteer confidentiality policy is attached for your information. Note: this policy intends to protect the intellectual property of our applicants, not to stop the flow of collaboration. If you would like to share information about a proposal for the benefit of the organization, please contact us to facilitate that interaction. You’re also welcome to share information about an applicant that they share publicly on their website or social media. 

Signing up to review applications is considered acceptance of both the conflict of interest and the confidentiality policy. Please contact Anna Taylor (anna@thegreatersum.org) with any questions about these policies. 


If you’d like to increase your background knowledge of social entrepreneurship and nonprofit management before you start reading applications, I recommend the following resources: 

Significant and research-based approaches to global good: http://www.globalgoals.org/ 

Defining social entrepreneurship: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrrF_LrIYus#t=11 

Nonprofit governance: https://www.independentsector.org/programs/principles-for-good-governance-and-ethical-pr actice/ You should NOT need to do background research on the problem each nonprofit organization is addressing or who is doing successful work in their area of focus in order to provide this first-round assessment. 


Again, thanks so much for volunteering to review applications! You can sign up HERE.

You will receive your applications and a link to the evaluation form on August 2nd. Please complete all evaluations by August 16th..