SUCCESSFUL GRANT WRITING—STEP 3: DETERMINE THE GRANT REQUIREMENTS

SUCCESSFUL GRANT WRITING—YOUR GUIDE
STEP 3: DETERMINE THE GRANT REQUIREMENTS

By Steve Meyer
Steve Meyer Consulting LLC

I’m back after a hiatus of two months due to a hand injury that made keyboarding extremely difficult. Where I left off at in my 10 Steps to Grant Application Success was Step 2: Find a grant that is applicable to your program. Now we’re ready for Step 3: Determine the Grant Requirements.

Every grant proposal will have certain components and data that is either required in the grant application or is a critical element for success in the grant narrative. One of the biggest reasons a grant is not funded is because the proposal does not contain all of the right information or it fails to provide all of the critical components.

The first thing we need to do here is distinguish between what I mean by grant application and grant narrative requirements. Grant application components are the items required for what I refer to as “the fill in the blank part.” In this portion you will be asked to provide considerable information about your organization. The necessary information will differ with different grant funding sources, but some are pretty standard. This normally includes such things (to name a few) as the organization’s mission statement, its board of directors, financial information such as annual operating budget and project budget, geographical area and population served. To prepare for this part, the thing to keep in mind is that a grant evaluator should be able to understand your organization’s function and purpose in just a brief review of the information you provide. Any question left unanswered will likely be grounds for dismissal of the grant application. Any question that is not answered in a thorough and precise manner weakens the grant application.

Other necessary information for a grant proposal is components for development of a compelling, convincing and competitive narrative. Some of this information will come from elements already used in the grant application. The remainder is project driven. The project you are seeking funding for needs to be clearly defined and based on an identified and justified need. Historical data, census data, projected project impact data etc. will be necessary in the narrative. In many grants you will have a limited amount of space or characters to develop your narrative. The narrative may be developed in response to a single question, or it may be developed in response to several questions or project description requirements.

A critical component for non-profit organizations applying for corporate or foundations grants is providing verification of IRS 501c3 status. If you don’t have the necessary letter of verification from the IRS, check into this and either get a copy of the letter before you start the grant or find out if you do indeed have 501c3 status. You may need the assistance of an attorney to do this. I have consulted with a number of organizations that were operating under the assumption that they were a non-profit entity only to discover that they legally were not and could not apply for non-profit related grants.

Recent requirements for any entity applying for a federal grant are registration with DUNS and SAM. DUNS registration in my experience is best handled by calling 866-705-5711. SAM (System for Award Management) registration information is found at https://www.sam.gov/portal/public/SAM/. SAM registration will take some time. This is a successor to CCR (Central Contractor Registration). If you have previously registered with CCR you must migrate that information over to SAM. Information on how to accomplish this found at the SAM website.

You need to have all of the information for the grant narrative and application at our fingertips before you start the grant proposal.

Step 3 of the grant development process is often a time when the potential grantee first determines that they need help. Help may be found from another person or organization that has successfully completed an application or a professional grant consultant.

Steve Meyer is a grant writing and emergency management consultant. You can find out more about his services at his website http://www.stevemeyerconsulting.com.

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SEPARATING A NEED FROM A WANT

SEPARATING A NEED FROM A WANT
Determining if your AFG request is eligible for funding
By Steve Meyer

One of the major hurdles in developing a successful AFG application is to determine what is a need verses what is a want? What a fire department sees as a need may not necessarily be viewed as a need by the AFG system or an AFG evaluator.

Having worked on nearly a thousand AFG grants in the history of the program, I feel that I have a reasonably sound idea of what is viewed as a legitimate need and something that is eligible for funding. Following are some general guidelines about what has a chance of getting funded and what does based on my experiences and observations.

Legitimate Needs:

• Equipment that is aged beyond what is permissible in accordance with NFPA standards or other applicable regulations
• Equipment that has deteriorated or has been damaged beyond repair to the point where it is unsafe for fire and EMS personnel to use or inhibits fire and emergency operations
• A lack of basic safety equipment such as a complete set of PPE for every firefighter
• A lack of, or inadequate supply of, basic firefighting or EMS equipment, such as hose or a defibrillator
• A lack of a functional front-line piece of firefighting or EMS apparatus, such as a pumper or tanker (tender)
• A lack of training resources and a need for basic training for firefighters such as FFI, FII, SCBA training etc.

Some examples of grant requests that have not fared well in the AFG system include:

• A request to replace an aged fire truck or ambulance when there is a new piece of equipment of the same type sitting in the station. An example would be replacing a 30 year old pumper when there is a 10 year old or newer pumper in the station.
• Replacing a truck just to stay on a truck replacement schedule
• Replacing a truck because it is underpowered or has design deficiencies.
• Aerial trucks
• Customized fire apparatus
• Requesting a new piece of equipment that addresses a limited exposure. A good example for this would be requesting an ATV when the department can only document one or two incidents a year (or less) that it could be used for.
• Replacing PPE that is less than 10 years old
• Replacing SCBA that is less than 15 years old

Exceptions to all of these observations can be found.

Every year I answer the question hundreds of times: Do you think my fire department can get this, or this or this? I have a series of questions I ask them to help them make a determination if they have a legitimate need that has a chance of getting funded. I am making this information available to help fire and EMS departments determine if the apparatus, equipment or training they are thinking about applying for under the AFG has a chance of being funded or not and is worth the effort or the expense if you are working with a grant consultant. If you have several items you are considering, this guidance may also help you determine which item has the best chance for a successful AFG award.

What must be kept in mind at all times is that the AFG Program is designed to address basic firefighting and EMS operations and training needs. You must be able to demonstrate that you cannot and never will be able to pay for the apparatus, equipment or training that you have determined you need.
Another consideration to keep in mind is that a particular want or need that does not have a good opportunity for success in the AFG program may have an opportunity with some other grant. There are literally thousands of other grant sources available through private and corporate foundations. In my experience, however, very few provide funding for fire and emergency services. Determining what may be available requires research and often times the services of a professional grant consultant.

Steve Meyer is a fire chief, grant writing and emergency management consultant. You can find out more about his services at his website http://www.stevemeyerconsulting.com.

Get Grant-Ready for the 2013 AFG

Get Grant-Ready for the 2013 AFG

By Chief Steve Meyer, Steve Meyer Consulting LLC

Awards for the 2012 AFG are underway, leaving thousands of firefighters sitting on the edge of their seats awaiting welcome word that they will be a recipient of an award. This stage of the grant process is also a signal that the 2013 AFG process will soon begin. At this time it sounds like the program will open in late spring or early summer. The time to get prepared for the opening is not the day the grant period opens—it is now. In the grant writers world this is called getting grant ready. In the firefighters world it is called pre-planning.

Pre-planning for the AFG involves three aspects:
1) Determining a legitimate need
2) Assimilating ALL of the correct information and documentation to develop a competitive AFG application.
3) Having or finding the right person(s) to complete No. 1 and 2 above.

Since 2000 the AFG program has provided billions of dollars for critical life and property saving equipment and training to United States fire and EMS service providers. The program has transformed fire and emergency services from hosting pancake breakfast’s to put gas in fire trucks to a service that is considerably more well prepared to handle all fire and emergency situations with the latest technologies. Yet, many fire departments have either failed to take advantage of the program or have been frustrated in their attempts to procure grant awards with the program.

In subsequent blog postings at https://stevemeyerblog20131.wordpress.com/ I will describe the methodology that is necessary for a competitive AFG application. Other postings to my blog describe the methodology of successful grant writing that are applicable to any grant.

My next blog posting about the AFG will deal with identifying legitimate needs.

Steve Meyer is a grant writing and emergency management consultant. He has served as a volunteer fire chief for 30 years. You can find out more about his services at his website http://www.stevemeyerconsulting.com. You will also find Chief Steve Meyer on LinkedIn.
To find out more about the AFG program, visit the AFG website at http://www.fema.gov/welcome-assistance-firefighters-grant-program

TWO GRANTS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FOR FIRE/EMS DEPARTMENTS

TWO GRANTS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FOR FIRE/EMS DEPARTMENTS
By Steve Meyer
Steve Meyer Consulting LLC

There are two grants currently available to assist fire and EMS departments: the Lowes Charitable Foundation Grant and the Firefighters Charitable Foundation Grant. Both of these are small grants, but may come in handy for a small need or to fund a portion of a larger need. Brief details about both grants are below. More can be found out at the websites provided.

LOWE’S CHARITABLE AND EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION
The Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation is dedicated to improving the communities we serve through support of public education, community improvement projects and home safety initiatives.

Founded in 1957, the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation (LCEF) has a long and proud history of contributing to grassroots community projects. LCEF awards millions annually to diverse organizations across the United States.
The three grant programs that Lowes has that appear most favorable to fire and EMS activities are Lowes Community Partner Grants, Hometown Grants and Small Grants.
Full details on the grants can be found at http://responsibility.lowes.com/community-relations/

FIREFIGHTERS CHARITABLE FOUNDATION
The Firefighters Charitable Foundation continues to provide assistance to those in need. Grants are given to assist local fire/disaster victims, fire prevention education, volunteer fire department equipment purchase, and community safety programs.
There are four types of grants:
• AED (Automatic External Defibrillator
• Fire Department Equipment
• Community Smoke Detector Program
• Juvenile Fire Setter Program
Detailed information about this program can be found at http://www.ffcf.org/grants.html.

I am available to assist ant fire or EMS department with applications for these grants or to provide more information. Contact me at gfdchief@netins.net. Find out more about my grant and emergency management consulting services at http://www.stevemeyerconsulting.com. See my blog postings about grant writing at https://stevemeyerblog20131.wordpress.com/.

Are You Grant-Ready?

SUCCESSFUL GRANT WRITING—YOUR GUIDE

PART 3: Are You Grant-Ready?

By Steve Meyer, Steve Meyer Consulting LLC

In the majority of situations, developing a grant proposal is not as easy as filling out a form. If you have chosen to work with a grant consultant it is not as simple as contacting the consultant and telling them you want $_____ for _____ project. With either situation before you even begin the grant application process you need to be Grant Ready.

Your ultimate aim in being Grant-Ready is to have all of the information necessary to describe your organization and project in sufficient detail that you leave the grant reviewer with no questions about what you are doing, what you need in order to accomplish your objectives and what the benefit is going to be. Couple this with a convincing narrative and you’ve set the stage for thumbs up to funding your proposal.

In a nutshell grant-readiness entails providing detailed information about your organization and its project and backing your project proposal up with statistics and data that provide credibility to your project and its outcomes. The variables and data sources that this is contingent upon will change somewhat with different venues but there are some common denominators in the information you need to have available for all grants, including:

• Project description
• Organizational profile and mission statement
• Historical documents and statistical data relative to your project
• Articles, research reports and white papers relative to your project
• Annual reports of your organization
• Project budget
• Census Data
• Analytical data relative to your project
• Projected outcomes

If you are working with a grant consultant it may not be necessary that you have all of this information assembled. At the very least, though, you need to provide the consultant with the resources or contacts they need to pull all of this vital information together. The better the information you can provide, the easier it will be for your consultant to develop a competitive proposal. Either you or someone affiliated with the project will have to be a go-to person that the consultant can rely on to help them find answers and information vital to an award winning proposal.

The all important piece of the puzzle for being Grant Ready if you are tapping into a charitable foundation grant is having 501c3 status established for your sponsoring organization or cause.

Be prepared to spend some time becoming Grant Ready. The time you spend becoming Grant Ready is directly proportional to your chances for funding success.

Bottom line: if you aren’t Grant Ready it will be a wild scramble assimilating the necessary information before the grant application deadline. And, if you aren’t Grant Ready you are in a position of presenting a grant proposal that is fearfully inadequate.

Steve Meyer is a grant writing and emergency management consultant. You can find out more about his services at his website http://www.stevemeyerconsulting.com.

10 Steps to Grant Application Success

SUCCESSFUL GRANT WRITING—YOUR GUIDE

PART 2: 10 Steps to Grant Application Success

By Steve Meyer, Steve Meyer Consulting LLC

For those venturing into the complex and mysterious world of grant procurement there is ten steps that need to be followed. Following are the ten steps with a brief explanation of each. More in depth explanations of each step will follow in subsequent blogs.

Step 1: Determine your needs
Determine what your needs are and formulate the need into a program.

Step 2: Find a grant that is applicable to your program
This is the search phase. There are thousands of grants available through the government and various charitable foundations. The key becomes finding the grant(s) with parameters that align with your program.

Step 3: Determine the grant requirements
Every grant will have certain “things” they need in your grant proposal. One of the main reasons a grant is not funded is because the proposal does not address these “things.”

Step 4: Determine if you will develop the grant application yourself or if you need the assistance of a consultant
Once you reach Steps 2and 3 and you have looked at the grant requirements you may determine the application and proposal process is daunting or demands too much time. If you are serious about the grant, then it is best to use the services of a professional grant consultant.

Step 5: Pull the necessary data together
Every grant is going to require data of some sort. Having this data available and pulling it all together is what we call Grant Readiness. This can be, and often is, a time consuming effort.

Step 6: Develop a compelling proposal
This is the part that grant evaluators will pay the most attention to when deciding if they will fund your proposal. If word smithing isn’t your craft, you’re better off using the services of grant consultant.

Step 7: Complete the application
Every grant is going to have some fill in the blank portions. Submitting an application with any blank left open is a fatal error.

Step 8: Proofread the application
Make sure your application is free of grammatical errors and everything reads well and any figures you present are accurate.

Step 9: Have someone else review the application
A second set of eyes reviewing your application will help catch errors and maybe shed some insight into other things you should consider covering in the crucially important narrative sections.

Step 10: Submit the application
When everything is complete, double check to see that you have everything that the grant application requires. Also make sure you are providing the required number of copies if it is a paper application. Then, make sure you submit the application by deadline. Believe it or not, I’ve had clients who neglected this final step

Steve Meyer is a grant writing and emergency management consultant. You can find out more about his services at his website http://www.stevemeyerconsulting.com.

SUCCESSFUL GRANT WRITING—YOUR GUIDE–PART 1

SUCCESSFUL GRANT WRITING—YOUR GUIDE

PART 1: IS THERE A GRANT OUT THERE FOR YOU?

By Steve Meyer, Steve Meyer Consulting LLC

My purpose for this blog is to provide practical down-to-earth guidance to those who are looking to fund ventures, causes and initiatives with grants. Thousands and thousands of people and organizations receive grant funding every year. The number of grant applications that are rejected is probably 10X those who are successful. My goal is to help those who have a legitimate fundable grant request end up in the funded category.

This first installment focuses on helping the would-be grant applicant determine if they indeed have a project that is worth pursuing grant funding for. Having worked as a professional grant consultant for twenty years, I find myself compelled to debunk some misinformation about grants that has led many people down a path of unrealistic expectations for grant funding. I do not intend to stifle anyone from considering grant opportunities for their initiative, whatever it may be. I just want them to be cognizant of what the realities of the grant world are, and not to be too enamored with false hope. A lot of time, energy and false hope are often wasted pursuing grant opportunities that simply don’t exist or that have such a marginal chance of success that the chase may be more costly than the benefit.

COMMON QUESTIONS

As a professional grant consultant, the common question I address is; “Is there a grant for my ____ project?” Or, the statement I am often confronted with is “I want to _______, go find me some grant money,” or even better yet: “I’ve got this idea and my friend told me there’s lots of grant money out there I can get—go find it for me.”

The root of such statements is a misconception that there is, as I also often hear; “All kinds of grant money available for anything.” Having worked as a professional grant consultant for two decades, I warn the grant seeker that the pot of gold is not as overflowing as they may be led to believe. In fact, in many cases it will be found that funding sources range from limited to extremely limited. However, there is help for a lot of things as long as it is the right thing.

TYPES OF GRANTS

Any time you are talking about grant funds you are basically talking about four general types of sources: federal grants, state grants, foundation grants and local development type grants. It is true there are thousands if not tens of thousands of grant sources available. Each of these thousands of grants has its own parameters.

WHO REALLY IS ELIGIBLE

If you are a private or want-to-be private business enterprise from a federal grant perspective, your chances of finding grant funding are close to zero unless you are from certain minority groups and/or your initiative that within well defined guidelines. Grants generally don’t fund businesses, they fund causes. Occasionally a business can get grants by supporting those causes or forming some sort of alliance with an organization that has 501c3 status. Some local or state development grants may offer hope for business development grant, but if you’re an independent over the road trucker, Uncle Sam isn’t going to give you a grant for a new truck.

Any endeavor that already has a successful start has a better chance of being funded. Funding a concept or an idea is nothing but blue sky in the eye of a potential funder. If you have an endeavor that has at least gotten itself off the ground and shows promise of achieving its mission, you are past go and may wish to proceed.

HIGHEST PROBABILITIES OF SUCCESS

Generally speaking, as I see it, the initiatives that have the highest probability of finding grant sources are government entities or 501c3 non-profit organizations– particularly those that focus on medical science, alternative energy, technology, economic development, education, disaster recovery and relief; assistance to disadvantaged people and people with disabilities. If your initiative or cause fits one of these characteristics, then it’s time to conduct a grant search, which will be covered in upcoming installments.

You can do an on-line search and find numerous enterprises that for a set fee promise to find you grant funding for any purpose. The Better Business Bureau has something to say about these enterprises at the website http://www.casperjournal.com/business/article_0524a91e-82d8-57d1-88fe-9abd401057d2.html?comment_form=true

Subsequent blog posts will assist grant seekers with the grant application process and help you prepare competitive grant applications that have the highest probability of success.

Steve Meyer is a grant writing and emergency management consultant. You can find out more about his services at his website http://www.stevemeyerconsulting.com.