10. What are the characteristics of proposals most likely to be funded?
The following are the primary criteria of merit by which the judges will assess each proposal:
- Congregational Ownership
The proposal needs to demonstrate a resonance with the interests and capacities of the congregation to take on this kind of an effort. Is the congregation fully supportive of the commitment of time and energy the minister will need to make if the project is to succeed?
- Intellectual quality
It is not assumed that the key personnel in the proposal already possess a high level of knowledge of the faith and science dialogue. The proposal, however, will need to demonstrate a commitment to intellectual quality: at least some knowledge of key themes and topics along with an awareness of the leading figures in science and faith. Conversely, avoidance of flakiness or perspectives that fail to give due regard either to pertinent and widely accepted science on the one hand or solid theology on the other.
- Key Personnel
Are the key people involved in the project, namely the pastoral leader and the science educator, uniquely invested in the project? Is there promise of meaningful, sustained, and productive collaboration between them? While a range of other individuals will be critical to the project’s success, the proposal will need to demonstrate the potential for a creative, collaborative, and productive partnership between the key personnel.
- Clarity about the “target market” and its needs
It is assumed that the target audience of this proposal will be an actual congregation or some important part of it (young adults, or Christian education, or small groups). It will be important to describe the congregation in view, and how the proposed project will fit the make up and character of the congregation. As important as the project’s fit with the minister and scientist is, it is of equal importance that the proposal demonstrates the fit between the project as a whole and the particularities of the congregation. Reviewers will give serious attention to the project’s strategy in the sense of whether the actual plan represents a viable means of achieving high impact with the group it is meant to reach.
- Likelihood of continuing beyond the life of the grant itself
Can the activities outlined in the proposal become self-sustaining, if not during the course of the grant itself, at least without an enduring dependency on grant funds? While it may not be practical or necessary for the actual project activities to continue, it is important (as elaborated in the next bullet point) that there be a great potential for some real and concrete enduring change in how the congregation engages science and intellectual life broadly.
- Promise of producing a genuine and lasting benefit
Will this project make a genuine difference for those who participate or is it more likely to be an interesting experience that however intellectually solid and professionally carried out, too easily gets lost in our busy world? More broadly, does the strategy consider impact on church life in your town, region or denomination generally and not just on the individual congregation in view?
- Creative and effective evaluation plan
Is there an evaluation plan that promises to get at the heart of project’s effectiveness without being administratively burdensome? This need not be elaborate, but it does call for being sufficiently concrete and specific about what will be accomplished so as to make evaluation possible. What will success look like and how will you know if you have accomplished your goals?
- Contribution to a widespread and diverse network of churches in Scotland
While the selection process will be based primarily on the strength of the proposal, it will also take into consideration the potential for an awarded project to contribute to the wider network that the main project seeks to develop across Scotland. In light of this latter criterion, congregations will be selected with a view to cover a wide urban/suburban/rural and geographical spread. This means, for example, that the programme will be very interested in ideas that will potentially be of value for large or small congregations, rural or urban groups, for churches in university towns and for those with very few scientists among them. That is, the programme will be interested in how the projects of particular congregations will be of benefit not just to that particular congregation but also to other unfunded congregations. Again, however, the programme’s concern for spread will be tied to the strength and potential of the proposals.