Preparing a successful grant application can be a daunting task. Like many agencies you are probably wondering where to start, what grants are best for you, and how to craft the perfect grant application to set your agency up for success.
Step 1: Define a Project & Get Grant Ready
The first step is to identify your community and department’s current needs during your strategic planning sessions. Where would your community benefit from grant funding? The best way to do that is to give priority to those areas that will produce the most measurable impact on your department and your community. Be prepared to explain how the requested funding will solve a problem.
Step 2: Research Funding
Now that you’ve got your project in mind, it’s time to find out who can help you fund it. How can you find a grant that will fit your needs? The best way is to use the FireGrantsHelp or PoliceGrantsHelp grant databases. You can perform a search by grant category (Federal, state, or corporate), keywords (such as radios or equipment), or by your department’s state.
Step 3: Prepare for the Grant to Open
The number one reason why grant applications are denied is failure to follow directions. So, once you have found a grant you want to apply for and are sure you meet the eligibility requirements, read the current RFP very carefully. Some grants sponsor workshops or provide written guides which can be helpful in keeping your grant application process on-track. When looking at a guidance document, go through and look for items that are “must do’s,” “should do’s,” and “could do’s.”
Step 4: Application Period- Create, Review, Submit
You have been gathering all the information you need, and now it’s time to put it together. Throughout this process it is important that you remain mindful of the grant application submission deadline. You wouldn’t want your hard work to go to waste because you missed a single deadline. You’ll have to assemble your application, following all of the rules and requirements that you researched in the last step. Some applications even have strict formatting requirements, such as what font size you can use and how each heading must look. The narrative is one of the most important parts of your grant application. It’s your opportunity to tell the grant makers your story. Use your data to paint a picture of how you and your community are being impacted by the outdated gear or equipment.
Before you turn in your application, have someone else review it. In fact, have 2 or 3 people review it. It is surprising how easily we can skip over the simplest grammar and spelling mistakes. Obviously, it would be best to have a professional grant writer review your application.
Step 5: Award and Turndown
The time from application submission to award notice varies for each grant. Some are up to 12 months while others can be as short as one or two weeks. On average however, a grant maker will make funding decisions in about 3–6 months.
If you have been turned down, request feedback from grant maker – guidance on why your application was turned down and what you can do to strengthen your application for future submissions. Sometimes a grant maker just wants to know how important this grant will be to your community, which you can show by following up and resubmitting.
Other times, the grant maker may request that you apply again the next year with additional data that they are interested in. Regardless of what they say, it is always a good idea to open up the lines of communication.
Step 6: Manage Your Award
Once you have received your award, it’s time to put it to use. Be sure that you follow all instructions given to you by the grant maker on post award management. These instructions are sent after the grant has been awarded. Also be sure to abide by any measures of success that you had outlined in your narratives. If you say that new equipment will decrease response times by 5% each month, be prepared to show that.
During this time, you should also be preparing for an audit. The best way to do this is by keeping all grant related materials in an accessible folder – copies of receipts, copies of any reports submitted – basically confirming you are in compliance with post award management instructions.
Step 7: Closeout (And Begin Again?)
This is the time to tie up all the loose ends related to your award, and get prepared for the next year’s grant application. If you do not complete the closeout process for the grant which you were awarded, you will likely not be able to apply for funding during the following cycle.
Many of the materials you prepared in the beginning of this process can be repurposed for the next year, so keep excellent records. This will make the grant process easier next year and provide a valuable resource.
Request additional information on the KENWOOD Viking Grant Assistance Program today to learn how your agency can receive free grant research and alerts, online grant writing training, grant application review, and 50% off grant writing services.