VAPG Reviewer Survey Takeaways

Question 1: Please rank the following areas regarding the evidence of these good grant writing practices in the VAPG grant applications you reviewed.

The strongest evidence for good grant writing practices, according to the reviewers, was a majority of these VAPG grant applications clearly demonstrated the purpose, need and use for the grant funds, a concise budget, and a realistic scope/size of the project compared to the dollars requested and available. The weakest evidence for a majority of these VAPG grant applications were the applicants did not identify potential risks or constraints. Applications were average in the areas of the application that included a method to measure the success of the project and evidence of strong support from community, customers and technical providers. 

Question 2: Please provide generalized feedback regarding the grant applications you reviewed. Briefly describe general characteristics of strong grant applications you reviewed. 

In general, reviewers said the strongest applicants reviewed were those who were clear, well thought out, specific, and followed the grants rules. They also noted that the strongest applicants had previous experience and had developed ties and also had ties from other organizations and people. 

Question 3: Describe the most common weakness you observed in the grant applications you received.

In general, reviewers said the weakest applicants were those who did not include realistic information, like an increase in yield each year. The applicants did not keep in mind the other risks involved in producing a value-added product. Weak applicants were very wordy, incomplete, and showed inexperience in their grant writing. Common characteristics of a weak application were no evidence of an effective marketing plan, budget or letters of support.

Question 4: How many years have you been a reviewer?

A majority of the 50 reviewers, or 62%, were first time reviewers. The other 19 reviewers ranged from 2-11 years with 1 reviewer having reviewed applications for 40 years. 

Question 5: If you have been a reviewer for longer than one year, what is the biggest change you have noted over time in the applications you reviewed?

Most reviewers found that each year applicants are get stronger. They feel that the template and point system makes it easier to judge and compare to others. They have noticed that those who have a third party write their grant proposals do not do well because they use jargon. Reviewers have seen an increase of outside support being reflected in the grant proposal.