Impact 100 Traverse City tested a new variation to the Impact 100 grant application process in their inaugural year. A few other chapters also tested this new procedure with positive results.
Under the current model, we require our nonprofit grant applicants to specify one of our five Focus Areas, as the area that best fits their work.
Most nonprofits could fit in multiple Focus Areas and have difficulty selecting only one. In addition, many Impact 100 chapters have had the experience of one or two Focus Areas with far fewer applicants than the remaining categories. We do not recommend moving nonprofits from one Focus Area to another in these cases, as the nonprofits may feel our “interference” hurt their chances of being selected as a Finalist.
Rather than asking our nonprofit grant applicants to select only one Focus Area, we will be asking them to rank all five Focus Areas from most relevant (1) to least relevant (5). We will commit to place each applicant in one of their top three choices. Applicants will know which Focus Area they are in when they hear from the Focus Area Chair at the start of the grant review process.
Feedback from Impact 100 chapters who tested this new process (after using the original method as a basis for comparison) has been overwhelmingly positive. Based on conversations with several nonprofits, the new process was seen as a benefit to the applicants as well.
Ranking Focus Areas by relevance will allow the Impact 100 chapter leadership to make slight adjustments, keeping within the nonprofit’s top three choices. Although this process would allow shuffling applicants from their first choice to their second or third choices, we recommend using this power very sparingly. We still want the nonprofit to influence the Focus Area themselves.
It is vital to note that when assigning an application to a particular Focus Area, we are NOT reading the applications to discern the “best fit.” Rather, we are mathematically re-assigning based on the application’s ranking without regard to content or applicant name.
Finally, it is not our objective to have an equal number of applicants in each Focus Area. Our intent is to ensure we have enough applications in each Focus Area for our grant review process to occur. This typically means a minimum of three applicants per area.