An Overview of the Komen Lowcountry’s Grantmaking Process

Komen Lowcountry invests in 501(c)(3) non-profit, state and federal organizations to provide an array of breast health and breast cancer services with an aim to create seamless systems of care, reduce late-stage diagnosis and reduce disparities for low-income, medically underserved women and men living in our 17-county service area.

Komen Lowcountry’s grants program is supported by private donations and is not an endowed foundation. Therefor, all the money that is granted out each year was raised during the previous fiscal year. Every donation counts. The Lowcountry Race for the Cure is the primary fundraiser for the affiliate’s work.

1. Learn from the Community Profile: Continuous
Komen Lowcountry’s grantmaking strategy is guided by our Community Profile. The Community Profile is a needs assessment of our service area designed to help us better understand the state of breast health and breast cancer services within our service area. This assessment determines the priorities of Komen Lowcountry, and grantmaking is one way that our Affiliate can address these priorities.

To learn more about the Community Profile and the priorities the Affiliate is currently addressing through our grantmaking, click here.

2. Develop the Request for Applications (RFA): August through September
The RFA is developed based on the findings of the most recent Community Profile.  Grant applications must address identified priorities and fall into one of the funding areas described in the RFA.

3. Solicit applications: October through December
The RFA is distributed widely to potential applicants in our service area. Wide distribution is essential in order to make the grant process competitive. Grant writing workshops are held annually to help potential applicants better respond to our RFA. Attendance at the grant writing workshop is required in order to submit an application.

4. Reviewing applications: January through February
A compliance review of each application is completed by Affiliate staff. This ensures all requests meet the granting criteria listed in the RFA. For example, the non-profit status of applying agencies is verified and it is confirmed that the project is specific to breast health or breast cancer. Affiliate staff neither reads nor reviews the application other than for compliance.

An anonymous, independent peer review panel reads, scores and ranks the applications. The final slate is presented to the affiliate’s Board of Directors for a vote.

Individuals with expertise in public health, breast cancer, grantmaking, nonprofit management, finance, or related fields and breast cancer survivors are eligible to serve as volunteer members of the peer review panel. Reviewers are trained so they better understand the the affiliate’s grantmaking goals, community needs and funding priorities. Reviewers individually review and score the applications. The review panel then convenes to discuss and consider the applications as a group. The applications are placed in a final rank order, which is the grant slate to be presented to the Komen Lowcountry Board of Directors.

5. Approve and award the grants: February through March 
The Board of Directors has authority to either accept or reject the entire slate; they may not remove individual grants from the slate or adjust applicants’ budgets. If the slate is approved, grants are awarded in rank order to as many applicants as funding allows. It is rare that funding is available for all approved applications. If the funding slate is rejected, the entire slate is then set back to the independent peer review panel to address the concerns of the Board. A new slate must be developed by the panel and approved by the Board prior to the awarding of any grants.

In March applicants are notified of funding decisions. Grants become active after a contract is signed by both parties and the first payment is released by the affiliate.

6. Manage and monitor the grants: Grant Cycles run April 1 to March 31  
Komen Lowcountry closely monitors all grantees to ensure that awarded funds are used as intended and NOT used outside the scope of our promise to save lives and end breast cancer. This monitoring includes 6-month and final reports and site visits with each grantee, at a minimum. A small grants committee (separate from the peer review panel) reviews the progress and site visit reports and makes recommendations based on those reports. Recommendations may include release of additional payments if the grant is on track or rescinding of the grant if the grantee is unable to meet the goals and objectives set forth in the application.