Before recruiting committee members and issuing grants it is useful to make initial decisions on foundational elements such as the basic structure of a grants program (number of grant cycles per year, service area, etc.) and committee composition (number of members, terms, etc.). These decisions contribute to how the committee members will interact with each other and how they will interact with the community as arbiters of grant funds. For variations on the structure of programs using resident-led committees, examine this grid about such programs in the Grassroots Grantmakers’ network as seen in 2012. Sample applications and guidelines from various resident-led grantmaking programs can be found here (hyperlink to the pdf called All Sample Guidelines and Applications).
Considerations for committee structures for resident-led grantmaking are perhaps not so different than for traditional granting committees. Perhaps the difference is in the type of committee member you recruit – someone who is active in his or her neighborhood – and the person’s worldview – someone who believes moving everyday people into action is important and impactful (see more in the Assembling Your Resident-led Committee). Nonetheless, below we detail the committee structures of Grassroots Grantmakers’ network members using the resident-led grantmaking strategy.
• Five programs have committees that are composed exclusively of residents from the neighborhoods that are eligible to apply for grants
• Two have committees that the majority of which are residents from the neighborhoods that are eligible to apply for grants, but also includes non-residents
• Number of committee members vary widely from a low of 6 to the maximum of 25 members
• Three programs convene their committee monthly, the rest convene either quarterly, bi-annually, or annually
• All programs conduct a committee member orientation
• Two have a committee member handbook, four have written operating guidelines, and all have conflict of interest policies
• All but one program has term limits with term limits as follows – four programs with a two-year limit, two with a 3-year limit (and one of those limiting to two terms), and one with a one-year term
What to Consider When Deciding on Committee Composition
• How many people will be on the grantmaking committee?
• What are the requirements and responsibilities of members?
• Will the committee make every decision as a full group or will subcommittees be deployed?
• Will there be terms indicating how long a member can serve? If so, how long and for how many terms?
• Will the grantmaking committee have leadership positions (for example, chair and vice-chair)?
• Will members review grants from their own neighborhoods?
• How involved will the committee be in structuring and creating the guidelines of the grants program?
• What is the time commitment required of each member?
• Will members interview grant applicants? If so, how does this change who you recruit to the committee?
• How many grant cycles will there be annually and how does this change who is recruited to the committee?
• Will the committee be a set group or an ad hoc group?