Responding to Selection Criteria – Just Answer the Question

selection criteria

Well-crafted and detailed responses to selection criteria are critical to successful grants applications. These criteria play a pivotal role in determining an application’s merit, with varying weights assigned to reflect their significance. It is important to distinguish selection criteria from brief project descriptions or administrative details, as they form the heart of the application, showcasing project alignment to funding priorities, organisational capacity to manage the project, and the impact the activity will have on the relevant communities.

Nervous? Don’t be. You don’t need to be an academic writer or have years of experience with grants to craft compelling, wellwritten responses. You just need to know your organisation and the project you’re proposing super well.

This article explores the nuances of selection criteria, delving into the importance of weighting, crafting responses, justifying project necessity, and the power of thorough review and revision. By mastering these aspects, applicants can greatly enhance their chances of success in the competitive grant landscape.


Selection criteria are questions within a grant application that require detailed and well-crafted responses. Responses to These criteria play a crucial role in determining the merit of an application and are often weighted differently based on their importance to the funders. It is essential to recognise that selection criteria should not be mistaken for brief project descriptions or administrative details. They serve as the main course of your grant application, providing an opportunity to showcase your project’s alignment with funding priorities, your organisational capacity, and the significance of your proposed activities.


‘Weighting’ refers to the maximum possible score assigned to each response under a selection criterion. By examining theweight assigned to each criterion, applicants can discern the level of detail and importance expected by the funders. While heavier weight may be assigned to specific criteria, it is crucial to remember that all criteria contribute to the overall score and merit of the application. Applicants should aim to provide comprehensive responses across all criteria, taking advantage of opportunities to align their answers with the funders’ own language and requirements.


When crafting responses, it is essential to stick to the question and frequently refer back to it throughout your writing. Avoid digressing into unrelated topics and focus on directly addressing the question at hand. Each paragraph should be checked against the question to ensure it provides a relevant response. Additionally, applicants should adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, treating their application as a business case. Demonstrating the value of the project, outlining its long-term outcomes, and addressing the funder’s investment priorities can significantly strengthen the application.


Clearly articulating the reasons behind your project and justifying its necessity are key components of effective selection criteria responses. This includes explaining why your project is important, how it aligns with the grant program objectives, and demonstrating your organisation’s  capacity to deliver successful outcomes. Conducting research on similar projects and highlighting lessons learned from previous initiatives can bolster your justification. Moreover, knowing when to evoke emotions in your responses can be impactful, but it should be balanced with maintaining a professional tone and adhering to word limits.


One of the most crucial steps in responding to selection criteria is reviewing and revising your responses. Leaving them until the last minute can lead to oversights and mistakes. Allocating sufficient time to review your responses allows for improvements in clarity, conciseness, and coherence. Always strive to present a polished and professional document that effectively addresses each criterion and aligns with the funders’ expectations.


Effectively responding to selection criteria is vital for securing grants. By understanding the purpose of selection criteria, reading between the lines to gauge their importance, and employing strategies such as sticking to the question, crafting a compelling “why,” and thorough reviewing, applicants can enhance their chances of success. If an entire grants application is a meal out at a fancy restaurant, think of selection criteria as the ‘main course’; this is your opportunity to demonstrate your project’s value and alignment with the funders’ objectives and that you are the best-suited to deliver it!

For more grantseeking advice, view our list of must-have supporting documents and materials for applications at: