Another excellent way to gain insight on the grant section process is to serve as a reviewer of proposals. Nearly all federal grantmaking agencies use external reviewers to rate proposals and recommend those worthy of funding. Who are those reviewers? Mostly people like you.
Due to budget constraints, reviewers are generally no longer are paid and are not flown into Washington for a weekend of face-to-face work. Instead, you receive in the mail a package containing 10 to 20 proposals, a stack of score sheets and instructions. Over the next couple of weeks, you read each proposal and score it, using a rubric the agency provides. Pretty quickly, you will see the difference between strong and weak proposals.
Here’s how to become a reviewer (also called, by different agencies, field readers and jurors): Go to the website of agencies making grants in areas where you have expertise. Use keywords such as grant reader and grant reviewer. You will be directed to a page soliciting reviewers. You fill in a questionnaire about your expertise, attach a resume, and submit it. If the agency agrees that you are qualified for certain competitions, your name will be entered into its computer, which randomly selects reviewers. The more agencies you register with, the better your chance of being called. There is no guarantee.