The Fund Finder News, by Kurt Bradley, Certified Grants Consultant

 

 

Over $68 billion dollars in grant funding is available every year for public safety agencies. It never ceases to amaze me that I am continually told “we don’t have any money in our budget for equipment, staffing or training.” My follow-up question is always “Did you apply for any grants this year?” The usual response is “No.”

 

Why is that?

 

The most common reason for this response is “procrastination.” I have heard every excuse you can possibly imagine as to why a department did not apply for the grant:

 

  • “I didn’t know about that grant opportunity”
  • “We were just too busy that month”
  • “Darn, I forgot about it” (my favorite)

 

Really? Seriously? That is about as lame of a response as the City Manager telling you he forgot to do the payroll that week!

 

You have to have the tools to the job

 

If you don’t have the proper tools to do the job, how can you do the job? Equipment is just as important as manpower. You can’t have one without the other. A local governing board might try to make you think that you can, as we have all experienced before, but the one goes hand-in-hand with the other in public safety work.

 

It is your responsibility to watch out for the safety of your employees and the safety of your community. In order to do this, you should always have in the forefront of your mind: “Where am I going to get the funding to supply these things?”

 

If you turn a blind eye to those issues or expect that you can just let the local governing boards handle these problems as they occur, then you are in for a rude awakening. The financial health of your department is crucial to the ability to perform your mission and to ensure the safety of your employees and citizens.

 

One tool in the toolbox

 

Grants are but one tool in your toolbox of resources that you should make maximum use of every year. As I have said before, and will no doubt continue to say, “Grants are like the lottery. If you don’t play, you cannot win.” Playing the game means finding and applying for the programs that are there.

 

Learning how to get in this game and be an effective player is critical. Education of someone within your department, regarding how to properly research, find and apply for these grants is not something that should be continually placed on the “back-burner”.

 

So what is it that you, as a department, should be doing to make sure that you are on this team and playing effectively?

 

  • Become “grant savvy” and get educated about how to research, develop and apply to grant programs that are available
  • Know what resources are available to you to assist you in pursuing funding
  • Apply for the grant programs that are out there and that you are eligible for yearly
  • Keep proper statistical data about your department and your community
  • Stay current with NIMS
  • Know your area of response and what is in it
  • Stay informed on what's happening in grants and your industry
  • Recognize that you must form a nexus between your needs and those of the funding source
  • Understand how to properly position your budget so that you can take maximum advantage of the grants

 

$68 billion in grant funding available... but are you going to try for a slice?

 

Let me say it again: from the federal to local levels, or from non-profit and corporate sources, over $68 billion in grants is available every year. Out of such a large pool of grant funding available, there are grants out there that can help you to obtain the equipment and training your department needs.

 

But the only way you'll ever get that funding is if you apply. So what's it going to be? Will this year be another year where you don't apply for grants? Or will this year be the year you “get off the bench and get in the game”?

 

 

Photo: David Beyer