Anonymous Donors: An Informed Public Is A Helpful Public

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Public Safety Grant News and Tips by Kurt Bradley, Certified Grants Consultant

You May Never Know Them, But If People Know What You Need, You Will Get It

You never know where help may come from, and I say that from personal experience.

One day a patrolman was sitting in a small coastal Florida police department writing a report, when a citizen walked in off the street and asked where the department motorcycle unit was.

The officer replied that they were so small they could not afford such a unit. The officer and citizen began talking about motorcycle units and police work. The men agreed that weekend beachgoers caused total gridlock on Saturdays and Sundays, and it made getting around in a squad car almost impossible. As their conversation wound up, the men shook hands and the citizen left. The officer went back to his report, figuring that was the end of it…

We’ll come back to that in a minute.

Anonymous Angels

Here’s the thing, folks. You may think that ours is a thankless job most of the time, but when the chips are down and you need help, someone usually steps to the plate.

Anonymous donors abound everywhere in our country, in any set of economic conditions. We need look no further than the number of hospital wings, children’s advocacy centers and libraries that are built through the efforts of anonymous donors.

People will not offer to fix that which they do not know is broken! Whatever your need, you can only receive help if people know what your situation is. Public safety agencies in particular tend to internalize their daily operational problems and concerns. Consider publicizing your plight and asking for assistance from the public or corporate America.

Learn to be creative when seeking financial solutions. Building a new station? Offer to name your new building after a local citizen in exchange for a donation of the land to build on, or capital to help with building expenses. Contact the local bank’s trust officers and estate lawyers in your area and let them know that if they have clients who need to donate money to a cause, that your agency would be grateful for consideration. Most people who donate philanthropically, would rather keep their money working locally than being sent off to some faraway place. Use your department’s public information personnel to relay funding needs to the public. You never who is going to step up.

Which brings us back to that small Florida police department.

You Never Know Who Will Step Up For You

The following week, the officer was at work when the same citizen walked into the station. He mentioned their previous conversation… and then he handed the officer the keys to a brand new, fully outfitted Harley-Davidson Police Motorcycle.

It turns out that the citizen was a retired Ohio State Patrolman who had worked for their motor unit for more than 30 years. He had retired to this small Florida community, and he could not stand that his new home’s police department did not have a motorcycle unit.

That citizen’s generosity taught that officer—me—a valuable lesson. Keep the public informed, because you never know who is going to come through for your department when you need it most!

Modifications To Fire Stations And Facilities Grant Applicants: Prepare For Environmental And Historic Preservation Reviews

Oct. 23, 2012 – Federal laws and regulations require that all AFG-funded projects for modifications to fire stations and other facilities undergo an Environmental and Historic Preservation (EHP) review and receive EHP clearance before any work begins and before any project funds are spent. FEMA must consider the potential impact of all projects funded on natural and cultural resources, and this is accomplished through FEMA’s EHP Review process.

If you requested a modifications to facilities grant, start preparing now by gathering the information that will be needed for the EHP screening. You will be asked to provide the following for each modifications project awarded:

  • Age of the structure(s)
  • Address of the structure(s)
  • Description of how the structure will be modified, e.g., how the equipment

Outstanding Individuals and Organizations to Receive Individual and Community Preparedness Awards

FEMA is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2012 Individual and Community Preparedness Awards. These Awards recognize the innovative practices and achievements of individuals, Citizen Corps Councils, and non-profit, faith-based, and private sector organizations working throughout the nation to make our communities safer, stronger and better prepared to manage any disaster or emergency event.

Applications were received from 38 States, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Each application reflected a wide array of activities, partnerships, and achievements, and demonstrated how much can be accomplished when the potential of the Whole Community is harnessed.

The 2012 Award recipients are working in the areas of youth preparedness, implementing technology advances to promote preparedness and sustainability, training, bringing together disparate entities to advance the mission of preparedness and much, much more. Because of their efforts thousands of people across the nation are more prepared, and are working themselves to make their community more resilient.

Please read about the great work our recipients are doing.

FEMA would like to congratulate the 2012 awardees in the following categories:

Outstanding State Citizen Corps Council Initiatives: Texas Citizen Corps (TX)

Outstanding Local Citizen Corps Council Initiatives: New York City Citizen Corps Council (NY)

Outstanding Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Initiatives: CERT Program and Volunteers, City of Newport Beach (CA)

Outstanding Achievement in Youth Preparedness: Chinatown Community Development Center (CA)

Preparing the Whole Community: American Red Cross Gateway to the Golden State (CA)

Promising Partnerships: Partners in Preparedness (NY)

Awareness to Action: American Red Cross of the Poconos (PA)

Innovative Use of Technology: North Dakota State University Agriculture Communication (ND)

Volunteer Integration: West Pierce County Fire and Rescue CERT Program (WA)

Community Preparedness Heroes: Michael Parker (CA), Mohamed Ali (WA), Scott Ellis (NJ)

Additionally, a recipient was chosen for the Second Annual John D. Solomon Preparedness Award, named for the late creator of the groundbreaking blog, In Case of Emergency, Read Blog: A Citizen’s Eye View Of Public Preparedness:

Second Annual Recipient of the John D. Solomon Preparedness Award: Be Ready Alliance Coordinating for Emergencies (BRACE) (FL)

The award winners were selected by a panel of leaders representing the Whole Community, including the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA), the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM), Target, the American Red Cross and FEMA.

All winners will be invited, as FEMA’s honored guests, to a community roundtable event in Washington, D.C.

For a description of the award categories, please see the Application Guide.

More Information: 2012 Individual and Community Preparedness Award Recipients Announced »

A Time To Recognize Your Dedication To Fire Prevention And Safety: Fire Prevention Week 2012

In recognition of Fire Prevention Week (October 7-13, 2012), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program want to take this opportunity to formally recognize the dedication of all members of the Fire and Emergency Medical Service communities. Your hard work and support of the AFG Programs have not only enabled you to better protect your personnel and citizens, they also have contributed to a much greater level of emergency preparedness throughout our country.

The theme for this year’s Fire Prevention Week is Have Two Ways Out! Please visit the the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) website for more campaign information, which you can share with your communities:

Application Period Coming Soon For FY 2012 Fire Prevention And Safety Grants

As you prepare and implement Fire Prevention Week activities in your community, please consider preparing for the fiscal year (FY) 2012 Fire Prevention and Safety (FP&S) grant application period.

The application period is planned to open in late fall. Keep watching the AFG website at for additional information. Two videos with tips about applying for FP&S grants also can be viewed on the FP&S section of the AFG website.

To assist in your preparations, you may wish to visit the websites shown below, where you can find information about some current and past AFG-funded projects and learn about grantees’ models for successful FP&S initiatives:

Thank you once again for your continued service to the communities and citizens within your jurisdiction and for protecting us all during times of emergency and disaster.

FEMA: Updated AFG Calendar

This calendar from FEMA provides an overview of important dates for fire grants and other FEMA programs such as AFG. NOTE: All information, including dates and projected application periods are subject to change. When a conference is listed, the AFG Program either will be exhibiting and/or giving a presentation or workshop.



  • November 8-–11, 2012. Visit the AFG booth at the International Association of Fire Chiefs’ (IAFC) Volunteer & Combination Officers Section “Symposium in the Sun”, Clearwater Beach, Florida.

Late Fall

  • FY 2012 Fire Prevention and Safety Grant application period (tentative)

AFG Home Page: AFG Help Desk: E-mail [email protected]. Telephone Toll-Free: 1-866-274-0960

The 5 W’s of Successful Grant Writing

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

Writing and composing a strong grant application is not difficult if you understand that the funding source must have some basic questions answered in every grant application it receives. Even before the actual RFP or Program Guidance (the grant program’s playbook) is published and released, you can start preparing for any grant by simply following the elementary school lessons you learned as a child. Answer the 5 W questions: Who, What, When, Where and Why.


Any grant funding source will want to know who it is that is applying for funding. Begin by describing, in detail, exactly who your department is. Ask and answer questions such as:

  • Are you a volunteer organization or career oriented?
  • How many staff do you have and how well are they trained to national compliance standards?
  • What is your call volume for the year?
  • What is the population of your area’s jurisdiction and how many sq. miles do you cover?
  • Are you a 501c3 non-profit organization? Are you staffed by volunteers, career people or a combination of the two?

Under the question of “who”, we need to also explain who this money is going to benefit. Funding sources often state clearly that they have targeted groups of people they wish the money to benefit. You have to show them that your program will be doing that. The Fire Prevention and Safety grant program from FEMA is a good example of this. The program identifies 2 high-risk targeted audiences that the funding should benefit:

  • those children 14 years old and younger, and
  • senior citizens over the age of 65.


Tell the funding source exactly what the problem is that you are asking them to give you a grant award to try and resolve. Be specific and not general in nature with your descriptions here. Make sure that you tell them how you know that this problem exists. Talk about exactly what you did to determine that this problem existed and what the scope of the problem entails.

Be able to relate to the reviewer exactly what it is you intend to do with the grant money, be that buying or replacing equipment, putting on an educational program or increasing your technological capabilities. Be certain to list specific goals and objectives for your program. This lets the reviewer know that your program is both comprehensive and well thought out.

Do not forget to think about how you would evaluate your program to prove that it was successful. You should also explain how you will sustain the program and continue it after the grant funding has been spent.


The reviewer is going to want to know how long it will take to accomplish your goals. If allowed, be sure you make up a timeline showing exactly what is going to take place and in what chronological order those activities will occur.

This also allows you to gauge how much time you will actually need to set aside to accomplish this project. Consult with others who may be involved with the grant, such as training officers or community stakeholders. Doing so also can serve to alert you, ahead of time, that maybe your project is too complicated to complete within the stated time periods allowed. This will allow you to adjust accordingly prior to submitting the grant.


Did you know that geography is the most failed subject in school these days? Many high school graduates, if given a blank map of the United States, could not point to New Hampshire or Rhode Island.

You should always make a very concerted effort to geographically orient the reviewer to where you are located. It’s not good enough to simply say “we are located in Springfield”. Is that Springfield Illinois or Massachusetts? Did you know there are 13 cities and towns in the US called Springfield?

Never assume the reviewer knows where you are. Always orient your location to well-known cities in the US by distance and compass direction. Here’s an example of how to say this: “We are located in Springfield, Illinois, which is 96 miles NE of St. Louis, Missouri, and 200 miles SW of Chicago, Illinois.” Talk about your area, and tell them some things such as:

  • What is the town famous for?
  • What drives the local economy?
  • Are you mostly industrial, agricultural or residential in nature?
  • What is the topography like?
  • What critical infrastructure is located in your area that you have responsibility for?

As you know, a lot of mental pictures can be drawn by the correct use of a few well-placed words. This can be crucial in your application especially, since many applications nowadays have space limitations imposed. For instance, if I say “we are located in Eagle, Colorado, on the Western Slope of the Rocky Mountains,” there are mental images that automatically come to mind when you think about those few words. Things such as:

  • Cold weather with ice and snow for 6-8 months out of the year
  • Rural and isolated area of coverage
  • Wildfire problems
  • Hilly mountainous terrain requiring 4×4 vehicles

See, right there we saved almost 27 words and 170 characters.

It is important for the reviewer and funding source to know exactly where this money is going to and what areas will be served by the money coming to you.


Last but not least we need to tell the funding source “why” we need the money. The items you are going to want the reviewers to be paying attention to include, but are not limited to:

  • What is wrong with your existing equipment?
  • Are people getting hurt? Are they at risk of getting hurt from old dilapidated equipment you are being forced to function with?
  • Is it creating liability issues for your agency?
  • Do you need to take advantage of technological improvements offered in newer equipment? How will that help you?
  • Will this new equipment cut down on your expenses?
  • Why can’t you buy the equipment yourself?
  • How will this grant help your agency to better serve your citizens? In what ways?

You need to fully justify every dime that you intend to spend. There should be a direct correlation between what you are asking for and what the funding source says are their funding priorities. If you fail to understand and form the nexus between your need and their need, then you will not get funded.

Using the 5 Ws in Every Grant

The 5 Ws of Successful grant writing can be used on just about any grant funding program out there, in doing the pre-planning and research in anticipation of actually completing a grant program application. Gather the information discussed above, and you will be well prepared to answer most questions or provide the requested information for a funding source, regardless of it being a federal, state, local or corporate/ private foundation program.

Photo: Horia Varlan

$29,930,389 in Fire Grants Awarded in Round 3 SAFER 2012

Oct. 5, 2012 – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced the third award round for the FY2012 Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response Grants (SAFER).

FEMA awarded $29,930,389 in Hiring Fire Grants to 10 agencies. Award amounts for Hiring Fire Grants ranged from a $1,037,352 SAFER grant, awarded to the Desert Hills Fire District, Lake Havasu City, AZ, to a $5,613,813 SAFER grant award to the Detroit Fire Department, Detroit, MI.

See the full SAFER award list here. Check back weekly for more SAFER award updates!

October Is National Community Planning Month

FEMA invites you to celebrate National Community Planning Month during the month of October as an opportunity to highlight the contributions sound planning and plan implementation make to the resilience of our communities.

The celebration of National Community Planning Month gives us the opportunity to recognize our State, local, Federal and Tribal partners who have contributed their time and expertise to improving the sustainability and resilience of their communities through planning activities.

Community planning helps manage change in a way that provides better choices for how people work and live. Community planning provides an opportunity for all residents to be meaningfully involved in making choices that determine the future and preparedness of their community. The full benefits of planning require the whole community to understand, support, and demand excellence in planning and plan implementation.

FEMA’s mission is “to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards.” Planning is a critical function of what we do and how we assist communities. Every FEMA mission area – Preparedness, Recovery, Response and Mitigation – conducts planning aimed at accomplishing this Agency mission.

The month of October is designated as National Community Planning Month throughout the United States of America and its territories. For more information on how your organization can promote planning and National Community Planning Month, please visit the American Planning Association website at or APA’s Hazards Planning Research Center at