Finalist Follow-Up & Due Diligence


Program staff should thoroughly vet finalist proposals by calling references, verifying proposed locations and partnerships, fact-checking the application, and asking for answers to a standard set of follow-up questions. Applicants and references are typically given about a week to respond to questions, when possible.

Step-by-Step Process

Request General Updates

Applicants that are having their proposal reviewed by the full committee are typically sent 3-5 follow-up questions while the Advisory Committee is completing their individual review.

Standard Applicant Follow-up Questions
  • Are there any general updates/changes to the implementation plan for your project?
  • Have you altered your marketing/promotion/PR strategy or have you had any interest from local media?
  • Have you added any additional collaborators or community partners?
  • Have you secured any additional funding for your project, or do you have a status update on other requested support?
  • Have you determined how or if your project would move forward without this grant?
  • Is there any other additional information you would like to convey to the review committee?

Check References

If the applicant was asked to provide references, they should be contacted only if the project is identified as a high or medium priority proposal by reviewers. An email should be sent to these applicants’ references at the same time as the Custom Follow-up Questions, asking references to email or call a program staff member to provide their reference question responses 2-3 days prior to the decisionmaking meeting. The information collected from the reference checks can then also be incorporated into the meeting script.

Sample Email for Reference Check

Dear Reference Name:

Lead Applicant Name listed you as a reference on an application for Project Name that is requesting support from Program Name at Organization.

We’re doing some due diligence on the project as it has recently qualified as a finalist in the review process. We would greatly appreciate it if you could take a moment to answer the following questions before due date/time.

  1. How familiar are you with the project?
  2. What is your relation to the project?
  3. What do you believe the capacity of the project manager is to manage the project?
  4. What value do you think the project could add to the community?
  5. Anything else you would like the Advisory Committee to know?

If you would feel more comfortable discussing the project by phone, please do not hesitate to call phone number or email back with a good time to speak with you.

Thank you for your time. Your input is highly valued!

Ask Specific Follow-up Questions

Custom follow-up questions should be sent within a day or two of receiving the committee’s scores/comments/questions and should be due 2-3 days prior to the decisionmaking meeting. This timing allows staff to collect and summarize the responses so they are able to be included in the meeting script.

Prepare Preliminary Recs

If decisions will be made based on scores and not through a decisionmaking meeting, the final step in the review process is to summarize the funding recommendations in a funding round report. The funding round report includes an overview of the round, a list of the proposals recommended for funding, summaries of the screened proposals, the scorecard summary, and the cover sheets/funding recommendations for all proposals that were reviewed by the full committee. The committee is sent the report via email and are given several days to approve the recommendations. This process provides committee members to review recommendations and confirm that the information is correct before the applicants are notified.

If a decisionmaking meeting will be used to make the final funding recommendations, this step is done following the meeting and would include notes from the meeting in the funding recommendation overviews for the projects reviewed by the committee.


Methods We Love

:heart: Send update request during the committee review. If these questions are sent at the same time the review packet is sent to the committee it can be due around the same time as the scorecards from the committee will be back. This will ensure that the timeline for review stays on track.

Alternative Approaches

:bulb: Applicant Interviews. After the eligible applications have been reviewed by the Advisory Committee, applicant interviews can be used to ask follow-up questions based on comments and questions that resulted from the initial application review. These interviews can help to further prioritize the proposals and provide clarification before discussing funding recommendations at the decisionmaking meeting. This is also a way for the Advisory Committee to be directly in contact with applicants, if they are doing the interviews.

Templates & Downloads