Frequently Asked Questions from Lever for Change Expert Reviewers

How long does reviewing a proposal take and what is the total time commitment required?

We have found that reviewing a proposal can take anywhere between 45 minutes to one hour. Since each reviewer will be assigned a minimum of five proposals, we anticipate the process will require a total of five hours of your time. Please note that you will have at least three weeks to conduct the reviews assigned to you.

Where can I find my login credentials to access the platform?

Your log-in credentials were sent to you from the email address, questions@competitionname.org. Please check your spam folder and add this address to your safe senders list. If you cannot locate the email in your folders, please reach out to questions@competitionname.org and your credentials will be provided. This is the best email address for any technical issues you might experience.

The application does not ask applicants questions that translate directly to my scoring rubric. 

This is correct. Not all four criteria in your scoring rubric translate to questions we directly ask applicants. This is because we want you to evaluate the application holistically. For example, you may find the information you need to score a project’s impact based on a combination of the applicant’s answers about the project description, collaboration among partner organizations, and explanation of priority populations.

Or perhaps you will find the information you need by evaluating the applicant’s use of evidence to support their solution and assess the cultural fitness of this solution, as described in their answer about the location of current work and targeted beneficiaries.

There may be an application where you do not find any of the information you need in the answers provided, and this should affect your score for this specific proposal.

Within the bigger picture of the competition process, where does my role fit?

Applications assigned for your evaluation have gone through at least two other review steps. First, an administrative review, during which the competition organizers check applications to determine whether they are eligible and meet minimum requirements. They then undergo a Peer-to-Peer review, during which five other applicants score the proposal using the same criteria and rubric that you will use.

Here is an infographic to illustrate where you fit into the competition timeline.

Your evaluation adds another layer of expert review for applications. You are asked to review the proposal using the provided rubric and criteria, but you are not asked to provide a deep review of the project budget or legal/financial issues. This happens at a later stage in our process. You are not expected to research the organization or project beyond what is provided in the application.

Your scores will be normalized for fairness and then used to rank the project proposal. [Note: If you would like to learn more about the normalization process, you can find it explained on each competition website.] The competition sponsor and/or selection committee will then select a set of finalists from the top-ranking proposals, based on considerations that may include, but are not limited to, ranking from the evaluation panel, organizational capacity, geographic diversity, and feasibility.

These finalists undergo a rigorous period of due diligence that includes a robust review of the project, budget and evaluation plan as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion reviews. Additionally, there will be a full review of legal issues, organization financial health, and intellectual property ownership/policies, should they be relevant.

Should I plan to research the organizations that have submitted a proposal or base my review solely on what is in the application?

You should base your review on what is provided in the application.  There is no expectation that you do additional research on the organization or the project. Additional diligence and research is completed at later stages in the competition process.

My personal/professional expertise seem misaligned with the project I was randomly selected to evaluate. Am I a good fit to perform this evaluation?

Your role as an expert reviewer is crucial for the first stage of the competition and is based not only on your subject matter expertise, but the breadth and depth of your judgment. For this stage, we have asked applicants to avoid language that is too technical and to keep their responses concise yet illustrative.

You were carefully selected to be part of the evaluation panel for this competition because of your knowledge of and experience in the competition’s general theme, sector, and/or geography. If there are aspects of the answers that are outside your realm of expertise, rest assured that each eligible application that passed the administrative review and Peer-to-Peer review will be evaluated by four other expert reviewers. The diverse collective knowledge and experience of the whole evaluation panel, in addition to the score normalization process, will deliver a fair assessment to all eligible applications.

This next step of the process makes Lever for Change competitions unique. After making it through the evaluation process (in which you were involved), all finalists receive technical assistance from experts carefully selected for their project proposal. They will also receive Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion reviews from our Impact Partners to make sure their proposals are as impactful as possible and ready for investment.

In addition, all the finalists’ revised proposals will be included in our Bold Solutions Network, which will expose their projects to a wider audience of potential donors, even after the competition period ends.

As an expert reviewer, I would like to keep any unconscious bias I have in check. What should I do?

We are glad you asked about this! Our partners at Chicago Beyond created resources to help you address unconscious bias.  Please review their post Recognizing Bias to Unleash Impact and watch the video they created which discusses five types of bias you should be aware of as you evaluate applications, as well as how to mitigate those biases. 

What if I realize that there might be a conflict of interest?

Expert Reviewers who are employees of an organization submitting an application will be asked to recuse themselves from serving on the panel, if they are the head of the organization or will be on the project team. If you are neither the head of the organization, nor on the project team, we only require that you recuse yourself from evaluating your organization’s application. We also ask that you recuse yourself from evaluating the applications of any organizations for which your family members or close friends serve as employees, investors, advisors or board members.

I am a donor or work for a grantmaking entity. I read a proposal that I might want to fund. Can I reach out to the organization?

Yes, you are welcome to connect with any organization after the evaluation process is complete. Please let us know with whom you would like to be put in touch, and we can facilitate that connection.

Can I connect the team from one of the proposals I reviewed to another organization doing similar work?

We would love for you to connect potential partners once the evaluation process is complete. Please let us know with whom you would like to be put in touch, and we can facilitate that connection.

I would like to talk to other expert reviewers about their interpretation of the questions and how they are reviewing proposals. How can I get in touch with them?

Many of our past expert reviewers have expressed interest in a platform to interact with fellow expert reviewers. We are currently testing  competition-specific, private LinkedIn Groups for expert reviewers to meet.

While membership in a LinkedIn Group is optional, this would allow you to interact with other reviewers and the organizers of the competition, stay up-to-date with the latest competition news, and ask questions throughout the competition period. Please note that this is not a consensus-building mechanism. Studies have shown that consensus-building processes tend to weed out the boldest and most creative ideas. Therefore, we ask you that you refrain from seeking consensus from other reviewers on the particular proposals that you have been assigned.

We will include the link to join the LinkedIn Group specific to the competition you are judging in an email. We closely monitor group membership requests. Only confirmed expert reviewers are admitted. Once your request to join is accepted, you can access your landing page by typing the name of your group in the LinkedIn search bar, or through a link on the left side bar of your LinkedIn home dashboard (under ‘Groups’).

If you have not received the link to your competition’s LinkedIn group, please email us at info@leverforchange.org, and we will make sure you receive your invitation.

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