What's to Love about GRCs?
As the saying goes, the whole is only as good as the sum of its parts. Impact Austin illuminates that truth with our mission to support Central Texas nonprofits through our collective giving grants. Our grants wouldn't find their deserving recipients without the Grant Review Committees (GRCs) that evaluate various applications every grant cycle.
Few volunteer opportunities will put you in the epicenter of our nonprofit community's needs, like being a member of a GRC. Three Impact Austin members share their experience; please meet - in order of photos below - Amy Atsumi (Class of 2018), Blake Smith (with Community Partner Family Eldercare, Class of 2020), and Tonya Netzley (Class of 2017).
How many GRCs have you been participated in? If more than one, what inspires you to continue?
Amy: I have participated in two. One in my first year and my second in this year. I enjoy learning about the amazing organizations that exist in our community dedicated to helping others.
Blake: This was my first one! Also, my first year in Impact Austin. I would likely want to participate again, because I want to make sure we are good stewards of the members’ money.
Tonya: I continued to serve on a GRC my first three years in Impact Austin, though I took a break for many years. I signed up again in 2021 to see how the GRC process has evolved, including being virtual during the pandemic.
What were your biggest takeaways after serving on a GRC?
Amy: Impact Austin has a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to help these organizations improve peoples' lives. We have awesome, thoughtful members, with each bringing a great perspective to the table.
Blake: As a Community Partner, I learned a lot about what it's like to be on the other side of a grant application. I think the shift towards more trust-based philanthropy is also challenging to achieve, because people want to know how their funds are allocated to make the most significant impact possible.
Tonya: Understanding the core function of Impact Austin - evaluating grant proposals to be awarded. I enjoyed seeing how the thorough GRC process leads to quality grant proposals, and I appreciated working with Impact Austin members I didn't know before.
If you served remotely on a GRC within the last year, do you think remote participation helped or hindered the process? Did you find it easier to attend Zoom meetings vs. meeting in person, and do you have a preference?
Amy: It worked very well participating remotely for all our internal discussions and decisions/voting process. The only possible hindrance was the inability to engage in the site visits in person. So I'd like a hybrid approach with the kick-off and final meetings in person and all other meetings on Zoom.
Blake: This was my first year, but I do think the Zoom meetings helped me to participate more than I might have been able to otherwise. But I would have liked an opportunity for some in-person social activities to get to know people a little better. Hopefully, this will be an option in the future.
Tonya: Doing this remotely was easier to participate. I could still see GRC members on Zoom, which gave me more time to study the grant proposals and view videos.
What would you say to an Impact Austin member who has never served on a GRC? Why should she say YES to participation?
Amy: IA members should definitely engage on a GRC at least once. You learn a TON about how we operate in IA. You’ll meet amazing women and really have a direct impact on how each person's monetary contribution is spent.
Blake: It’s really the only way to understand which nonprofits get funded and why. I think it helps people understand where their money is going and what decisions are being made: why some nonprofits are disqualified, and some move on to the final rounds. And you learn so much about the others in the GRC - I feel like I made some great connections even though it was all virtual.
Tonya: Serving on a GRC is very important in the first or second year in Impact Austin. It helps you make connections and fully understand the core of what Impact Austin is about.
What would you say to nonprofits applying to Impact Austin for a grant about our review process?
Amy: While what IA does isn't just about the money, being part of the GRC provides a direct and fascinating way to engage in how our dollars are spent. We have not only the privilege to do so but the responsibility to be thoughtful about how we help others in our community.
Blake: There’s so much thought that goes into the decisions. Hours of research and different people with different expertise weighing in. I don't know how most grant review committees work, but I felt very confident in the two finalists because I saw all of the thoughtful research and conversations that went into that decision.
Tonya: The GRC process is so thorough and has been refined as the years have progressed. A nonprofit that doesn't become a finalist could still learn so much about preparing grant proposals based on the Impact Austin grant review process, which would benefit them in future grant applications.
You can sign up to serve on a GRC for our Equity and Health & Well-Being Grants from now until August 3rd. Please visit https://www.impactaustin.org/grc to learn more and register.