Site visits are an important part of the grantmaking cycle at the Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia.
Grant applicants are required to submit both a Letter of Intent and an Application before a site visit occurs, and most applicants have also had at least one conversation with our Executive Director. However, an in-person visit on location provides valuable insight for our Grant Review Committee and ultimately helps us discern who to provide funding to and what final reporting requirements might look like.
Who Attends Site Visits
To prepare for site visits, applicants first ensure that the right people are available for the visit. This varies based on who the applicant is and the specifics of your work. For Episcopal parishes applying for funding directly, site visits typically include your clergy (particularly your rector or priest-in-charge), representatives from the vestry, and lay volunteers heavily involved in the outreach ministry.
For our nonprofit applicants, your attendees will likely be similar to site visits you conduct with other foundations (program officers, executive leadership, etc.), but you will ALSO need to include representatives from your parish partner, typically both clergy leadership and laypeople who coordinate with you on a regular basis.
What to Expect
Many site visits include a tour of your facilities, especially the areas where programmatic work takes place. All site visits will include a sit-down conversation, and this is the most critical portion of the visit. ECF will send its Executive Director and a board member to represent the Grant Review Committee. These people have read all application materials, so a broad overview of your organization or ministry is often unnecessary.
Instead, ECF representatives will ask detailed questions about the work related to the grant application, how the work will be evaluated and funded after ECF’s grant, and what this work means for the parishioners of the Episcopal parish involved. Ultimately, there are a lot of great projects and programs out there that deserve funding, but ECF’s funds are specifically meant to increase the outreach capacity of our parishes in their own communities.
Site Visit Challenges
Site visits usually involve great conversations and opportunities for ECF to learn how to maximize funding available so that we can fund as many needs as possible. However, there are some pitfalls to watch out for that might make your site visit a little bumpier than it needs to be. The biggest challenge that we see is applicants who fail to answer our questions directly, particularly our questions about equitable impact. When we ask about equitable impact, we’re not asking “what is the racial makeup of your clients?” We’re looking to see if your clients have a say in the services that they receive. Are they a part of the program design process? What do your feedback mechanisms look like? Have you considered if your current program set-up ignores disparities?
Some examples might be a food pantry that solicits food donations of mac and cheese or potato products when their clientele is largely Latinx and would prefer rice, or a program for parents that requires a mom and a dad attend together, alienating same sex couples. There are lots of ways that implicit bias might disrupt the opportunity for programs to create equitable impact, and it’s important to know what ways your program is evaluating this (or if you’ve identified areas where you need to make changes). Acknowledging these challenges won’t disqualify you from funding – in fact, it shows that you evaluate your programs critically and are open to making change when needed.
Interested in applying for ECF funding? Have questions about the site visit process? Please contact us – we are happy to talk with you about your application and all the steps involved!