What exactly happens during the wait-time between submitting a grant application and finding out whether it’s been awarded or declined?
Here’s the breakdown of the life cycle of a MAC grant application:
1. Grant applications are checked for eligibility
First, applications are looked over by a program consultant at MAC to make sure the project fits within the scope of the granting program. If the application is ineligible, MAC will notify the applicant by email and the application won’t move forward to the peer assessment process. Always make sure your project is eligible by reading the General Guidelines and Program Guidelines!
2. The program consultant selects a peer assessment panel
MAC program consultants choose peer assessors to reflect the different kinds of projects within the pool of applications. The goal is to have an assessment panel that not only has expertise in their artistic disciplines and experience in the field, but also one that represents the diversity of Manitoba, including people who are Black, Indigenous, or People of Colour, Francophone, Deaf or living with a disability, members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, and living beyond the provincial capital.
When it’s not possible to find the appropriate peer assessors within Manitoba that are available and interested, and also do not have a conflict of interest with any of the applicants, we recruit assessors from across Canada.
To make sure we have new and different assessors reviewing applications, we only ask assessors to serve on a panel once every two years.
3) Peer assessors review the applications
Once the peer assessors are chosen, the program administrator gives them access to all eligible grant applications for that intake through Manipogo, our online application system. Peer assessors then review all applications and support material before the day of the panel.
4) The panel assesses the applications
The peer assessment panel is generally held within 12 weeks of the grant application deadline.
Before March 2020, most peer assessment panels were held in-person in the MAC office in Winnipeg. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we began holding virtual and hybrid peer assessment panels to great success.
During the panel meeting, each application is given equal consideration and discussed amongst the peer assessors. Applications are evaluated based upon:
- artistic merit (the quality of the proposed project);
- impact (the effect that the proposed project will have); and
- feasibility (how likely the proposed project can be completed).
As well, each application is evaluated against a set of assessor review questions, which are available at the end of each grant’s Program Guidelines.
After discussing, the peer assessors are asked to score how well the application meets each assessor review questions on a scale from one to five. Each application is then ranked on a list by their average score, at which time the peer assessors will learn the total budget for the grant intake – or, how much money can be granted by the panel.
The applications that the assessors want to fund and that are ranked high enough on the list to receive funding are Awarded. Applications that the assessors would want to fund but aren’t high enough on the list to receive funding are Declined with Merit. Applications that the assessors do not want to fund are Declined.
At the end of the final day, the peer assessors, the program consultant, MAC’s Senior Accountant, and MAC’s Executive Director sign off on the peer assessment report, which is the official document stating the panel’s final funding decisions.
The entire process typically takes 2 days: 5 hours on each day, with breaks every hour.
5) The program consultant sends out grant results
Applicants who receive an “Awarded” email must complete a funding agreement in Manipogo and accept the conditions, payment plan, and reporting requirements of their grant.
Those who receive a “Declined” or “Declined with merit” email can request feedback by contacting the program consultant and setting up an appointment over the phone or in-person.
Applications that were “Declined with merit” are reviewed twice a year (in March and in November). When MAC receives funds from previously awarded applicants who couldn’t complete their projects, we reallocate those funds to the highest scoring “declines with merit” during that grant period. In that instance, MAC notifies the applicant and given further instructions on accepting their grant.
We hope this blog has helped you understand MAC’s grant process a little better! Keep in mind that all granting agencies are different, and processes may vary between organizations.
For help submitting a grant application, contact the MAC Helpdesk.