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.

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/.