The following is a description of the general steps followed in the process of the Institutional Grants Program. Amendments are made from time to time.
Applications are submitted for review to the Claims Conference on a semi-annual basis. The application deadlines are twice a year. The application forms, as well as the deadline information and funding guidelines, are available on the Claims Conference website.
Applications are categorized into two different areas: Shelter and Social Services for vulnerable Nazi victims or Shoah Research, Education and Documentation.
Upon receipt of an application, an acknowledgement letter is sent to the applicant. Applications undergo a thorough review by the Claims Conference staff to see if they fit within the priorities established by the Board of Directors.
Once the project recommendations for Social Welfare projects are formulated and discussed with lay leadership, a summary of the applications and the recommendations in the respective countries is presented to social welfare advisory subcommittees of the Claims Conference Board of Directors in Israel and the United States. This provides an opportunity for members to raise issues of regional concern. All inquiries and suggestions emerging from these sub-committee meetings are presented to the Grants Committee at its meetings.
Research, Education and Documentation applications are thoroughly reviewed by one of two experts committees – the Professional Educational Advisory Committee or the Professional Research and Documentation Advisory Committee. These committees are composed of experts from around the world who help guide the staff in developing recommendations to the Grants Committee.
A booklet of summaries of every application (both Social Welfare as well as Research, Education & Documentation) and recommendation is delivered to each member of the Grants Committee approximately three weeks in advance of the Grants Committee meeting. In addition, in order for the Grants Committee to be in a position to make the most informed decisions, supplemental material is sent to the Committee members from time to time. Often, this material includes needs assessments, data and studies on geographic distribution of Nazi victims, and other funding earmarked from restitution sources. The Grants Committee generally meets for a full day and reviews each proposal and recommendation.
In addition, all Claims Conference Board members are given an opportunity to comment on the recommendations in advance of the meeting of the Grants Committee. The entire booklet of summaries and recommendations is placed on a closed website, with access given to Claims Conference Board members. Board members are asked to bring questions and issues to the staff’s attention. If any questions remain after consultation with the staff, or if a Board member wishes to raise a specific issue or opinion for discussion at the Grants Committee meeting, it may be submitted in advance of the Grants Committee meeting.
Based on the decisions of the Grants Committee, a booklet of summaries and recommendations is mailed to each member of the Claims Conference Board of Directors, which has ultimate responsibility regarding decisions. When a majority of the Board concurs, the recommended grants are ratified.
Over the past several years, the Claims Conference Grants Committee has been reviewing 450-550 applications per year. Every application is approved, rejected, or deferred pending further clarification from the staff on a specific point. If an application is deferred, it will be brought to a subsequent Grants Committee meeting for further review and acted upon accordingly. Over the past few years, approximately 85% of funding has been allocated for the continuation of ongoing programs.
After the Board of Directors approves the recommendations, institutions receive an official letter of grant. The grant letter includes the grant amount, purpose of the grant and all other terms and conditions of implementation. Institutions must confirm acceptance of the grant terms and then generally submit an amended budget and an anticipated timetable before they can begin implementation. grants and payments are tracked through a database.
The Claims Conference general approach is not to advance funds but rather to reimburse funds based on the progress of the projects. Generally, social services programs are required to report quarterly on the progress of the projects and research, education and documentation projects are required to submit semi-annual reports. The reports include a programmatic, financial and statistical report, where applicable.
The progress of each grant is closely monitored by the Claims Conference staff, which is responsible for reviewing all of the financial and programmatic activities to ensure accountability and conformity to the program plan and compliance with requirements and regulations. In addition, staff perform program review through site visits and independent spot checking of submitted material. For programs in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, a recommendation for the release of funds from the JDC country director is required. On the basis of the review of the progress of the project, funds are released. Final payments are made generally upon completion of the project or service.
Among the conditions of the grant is an audit requirement, varying upon the amount of the grant. For grants below $125,000, accurate books and records must be maintained for a period of seven years with access guaranteed, upon request, to the Claims Conference or our designees. For grants of $125,000 or more, the recipient agency is required to submit a separate audit of the funds received from the Claims Conference confirming the amount the agency received, the total amount thereof expended, and that the funds were applied exclusively for the purposes for which they were granted. Compliance with the audit requirement is monitored and maintained.
One of the conditions of a Claims Conference grant is that if no request for payment is made within any two-year period, the grant is cancelled. Institutions are given notice that their grant will expire. Upon reasonable request, some grants are given extensions. If, however, it is clear that the project will not come to fruition, or the scope of the project is smaller than originally expected, the grant, or a portion thereof, is cancelled.
There is an Oversight Committee, composed of members of the Grants Committee, for each of the two largest programs funded by the Claims Conference: Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel (“Keren”) and the Hesedim programs in the former Soviet Union. These committees meet at least once annually in addition to going on periodic site and home visits. These committees review relevant topics.
The Claims Conference itself performs an annual audit, which is conducted by KPMG. Every year, the Claims Conference has received a clean opinion. Further, several of the funding sources through which the Claims Conference obtains funds (such as the German government, German Foundation, and International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims) audit relevant grants administered by the Grants program of the Claims Conference.
All members of all committees serve pro bono and are expected, along with staff, to comply with the Ethical Guidelines and Practices Policy of the Claims Conference as approved by the Board of Directors. The policy sets out clear procedures to be followed.
A list of every grant, containing the name of the recipient institution, country and city in which the institution is located, amount granted, and purpose of the grant, is posted on the Claims Conference website under “Grant Lists.”