5. Internal: Some agencies review their proposals using internal staff.
Time: Typically, you can expect to spend several full days working as a reviewer. That can be concentrated or spread out over a few weeks. Don’t expect to slide it in easily around your existing work. It is intensive and requires focus to do well so make sure that you know you can devote the time needed. It’ll be worth it in the long run.
Payment: Some agencies give an honorarium for serving on a review panel and pay travel costs if necessary. The honorarium is usually a few hundred dollars. Money is certainly not the incentive here.
How to become a reviewer?
It’s pretty simple.
If you are interested in reviewing foundation proposals you can call your local United Way, Community Foundation, or other local funding groups (Friends of the Library etc) and ask if they need volunteers to review proposals. You’ll want to tell them about your expertise why you would be a thoughtful and helpful reviewer.
If you are professional in your field (teacher, social worker, law enforcement official, scholar) look at the web sites for your relevant state and federal agencies. They often have a tab on the home page or grants page about how to be a reviewer. Usually, they accept resumes and then contact you when they need reviewers. Since competitions have so many applications they often need hundreds of reviewers at a time so you have a good chance of being chosen.
If they don’t have anything on the site, find the competitions that you know you would be a good reviewer for and contact the program officer directly. (BTW, HUD always reviews their programs internally so it’s not worth contacting them.)
I have served on review panels even though I am not an expert in field because I have grants expertise and have successfully written proposals in previous competitions. They usually pair me up with someone with practical experience such as a classroom teacher or drug counselor. Together we spot different strengths and weaknesses in the proposals and it makes for a strong review panel.
Concerns you may have…