How to convince City Hall: Training is worth every penny

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The Fund Finder

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

There are two old sayings that state: “You get what you pay for” and “you have to spend a little money, to make a lot of money.” These statements ring especially true in grant writing.

The value of formal training and professional instruction in grant writing cannot be emphasized enough. So how do you convince your governing bodies and administrative officials that grant training is a wise worthwhile investment of your limited training dollars?

Find out how

Fire Departments: Is it time to complete or update your needs assessment?

The Fund Finder News by Kurt Bradley, Senior Grants Consultant

There is an old saying that floats about and holds a special truth not only in how we conduct our daily operations, but also in how we go about applying to grant funding sources. That saying is:

“If You Fail to Plan, You Can Plan to Fail!”

Proper planning involves a myriad of things, one of which is assuring that you have proper manpower and equipment to carry out your basic mission for your citizens.

A needs assessment is a critical way to identity the needs in your organization that might be filled by grants. Now is the time to complete or update yours!

Full story: Needs and Capabilities Assessment: Why and How Do We Accomplish This?

Do this after you submit your grant application

Letters of support

Make your grant more competitive by requesting Letters of Support

Congratulations, you submitted your grant! Once your application is in, though, there is still one thing left to do. It’s something you can—and should—do with any grant: request letters of support.

But…what is a letter of support, and how do you get one?

Full story

What separates the winners from the losers in grants?

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

What separates the winners from the losers in grants?
Public Safety Grant News and Tips by Kurt Bradley, Certified Grants Consultant

One year, I took on 18 departments who had previously had their grant applications rejected for a minimum of 2-3 years.

This was done purposely, with the intent of conducting an experiment to see what impact “applying the rules” would have on the outcomes. Apparently my observations about what they were doing wrong were correct.

That year, 14 of those 18 departments were funded after using this approach to their grant applications.

What made the difference?

Summer grant prep

Summer is a great time to prepare your department for upcoming grants and future grant opportunities. Here are a few tips to get you on your way to being prepared for any grant that comes your way:

Conduct a needs assessment

Proper planning involves a myriad of things, one of which is assuring that you have proper manpower and equipment to carry out your basic mission for your citizens. A needs assessment gives you the facts you need to know about how well prepared your department is to carry out its primary function.

How to do a needs assessment

What grants will you go for?

Each year, public, private, corporate, and non-profit organizations provide thousands of grants worth billions of dollars. What programs are out there that your agency could benefit from? What program will you try for for the first time? What programs have you tried for and gotten rejected, but you’re ready to try again?

Don’t miss another grant

Make sure your agency is set up in FEMA GO

FEMA GO has been a big change in how public safety agencies apply for federal grants. The intent behind FEMA GO is to have grants be managed in a more streamlined, user-friendly system. Over time, organizations like yours will be able to manage FEMA grants and other programs in one place.

This is a new system, and it is a big change. However, the new rules of the road are the new rules of the road. Once you are up and running, you should be ready to work in the new system to apply for and manage grants, and our get-ready-GO guide can show you what to do:

FEMA GO guide to apply for and manage grants

Know and practice the 4 things grant winners have in common

Over the years we’ve looked at thousands of grant applications, and we have seen it all. The good. The bad. The ugly. And there are things that consistently set the winners apart from the losers. Put our 4 tips to work in your grant efforts, and you will be far more likely to celebrate a grant award:

The 4 things grant winners have in common

Let the numbers do the talking

You can make a well-stated case for why your department needs a grant more than another, but you also have to back up your story with hard data. Luckily, there’s lots of that out there. Demographics, critical infrastructure, economics, you name it.

Get the numbers and facts you need with our resource lists

After you submit your grant, request Letters of Support

Congratulations, you submitted your grant! Once your application is in, though, there is still one thing left to do. It’s something you can—and should—do with any grant:

Request letters of support

Train

Just as you train for different incidents, it takes solid training to write a good grant too.

Check out our online training and national training options for what’s right for you

Need help with all this?

Our expert Senior Grant Consultants are a phone call or an email away.

Contact us today

Do this after you submit your grant application: Request Letters of Support

Letters of support

The Fund Finder News

By Kurt T. Bradley, Senior Grant Consultant, First Responder Grants

Congratulations, you submitted your grant! Once your application is in, though, there is still one thing left to do. It’s something you can—and should—do with any grant: request letters of support.

Application first, letters second

First off, notice I said you should do this after the grant was submitted. There is a reason for that.

Letters of Support need to be filed in your original grant file (especially in the case of large Federal grants such as the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program). Unless the grant provider has a grant number to associate that file and the Letter of Support, your letters will not make it into the file where they will be seen by the technical reviewers (provided that you scored well enough to warrant a technical review).

When you compose your request for a Letter of Support, be sure that your grant number, such as your 2019 AFG grant number is clearly noted. That way when it is received by AFG, they know exactly what file to put it into.

Who should you ask for letters of support?

First and foremost, ask all the Congressional Representatives from your state, both the US House of Representatives and US Senate.

Remember: This is not time to be partisan! Ask from Democrats as well as Republicans, and regardless of your like or dislike of politicians.

It’s always good to get a letter from your State Department of Homeland Security director.

If your grant is for communication equipment, request a letter from the Director of State DHS Emergency Interoperable Communications.

Also, it’s not a bad idea to ask for letter from your State Governor.

How to make contact

Now you know who you should ask for letters of support. But how do you know who these people are, and where do we find their mailing addresses?

And that’s right: mailing address. Not a phone number. Not texting. Not email. For everyone you want to contribute a letter of support about your grant, you’re going to send an actual letter.

Let me help you out as much as I can:

Copy this template: What to send in your letter of request

Here’s an example of what your letter of request should look like. We’ll use the FY 2019 AFG as an example, but you can copy, paste and customize this in your word processor to whatever grant you need it to reflect:

(Insert Date)

(Your Rank and Name)

(Your Department)

(Your Department’s Mailing Address)

(Your Direct Phone Number)

(Their Title and Name)

(Their Mailing Address)

RE: Letter of Support for 2019 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program

(Dear Mr./Ms./Representative/Senator/Governor LastNameHere)

The (Insert name of department, City, State) and our citizens, whom we are charged with protecting, respectfully requests a letter of support from your office in support of our recent grant application submitted on March 20,2020, to the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program offered by FEMA, a copy of which is attached.

This request is seeking $?????? in Federal share funding to acquire critically needed firefighting equipment necessary for us to ensure the health and safety of our firefighters and citizens that we protect and in response to compliance with the National Response Framework established by the Department of Homeland Security. 

This equipment is critical to our ability to be able to safely carry out our mission toward achieving those goals. The current state of the economy has caused our financial stability to falter. We, nor our citizens and your constituents, are financially able to afford the costs this project requires. Temporary outside Federal financial assistance is desperately needed. Your support of our efforts to secure this funding is humbly requested.

Our grant number assigned to his project is (grant number). We would greatly appreciate a letter of support from you be sent to the address below referencing our grant number and lending your support to this vital project in support of your constituency. 

The citizens and our department thank you for your time and support.

Respectfully,

(Your Name and Title)

The letter should be addressed and sent to:

DHS-FEMA-GPD
Attn: Chris Logan
Acting Assistant Administrator for Grant Programs
400 C Street S.W., 3N
Washington, D.C. 20472-3635

Once you write the letter

Once you’ve customized the letter above for your grant:

  • Print the letter on department letterhead
  • Sign the letter
  • Print out a complete copy of your grant from the online application
  • Put this letter on top of the grant request
  • Place the letter and grant request copy, unfolded, in a manila envelope and seal it.
  • Repeat as needed and mail to all those you addressed it to.

Seeking letters of support is a crucial final step that can make all the difference between rejection and winning a grant. Don’t forget this important last step! It’s something that all our past winners do—and you should also.

See you in the Winner’s Circle!

Regional AFG Fire grants: Should your agency apply?

The Fund Finder News by Kurt Bradley, Senior Grants Consultant

Over the past few years, regional grants have become a powerful way for multiple agencies to band together and apply for a grant.

Funding sources, especially DHS, like to see regional applications. Why is that? Regional applications fit well within the NIMS framework, in that everybody plays well together in the same sandbox. Not only can departments enhance their own individual operations, but by seeking grants together they can also improve mutual aid and interoperability.

However, regional grants are no more of a slam dunk than any other grant. Here are some things to keep in mind before you apply:

Full story

AFG opens soon, are you ready to GO?

FEMA GO guide to apply for and manage grants

FEMA is transitioning its grant applications and grant management to a new system called the FEMA Grant Outcomes system, or FEMA GO. From now on, FEMA GO is how departments like yours will apply for and manage public safety grants such as Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG)Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response Grants (SAFER), and Fire Prevention & Safety Grants (FP&S).

We’re not sure yet when AFG is going to open. Now is the time to get set up and familiar with FEMA GO. Once it’s go time for AFG, you’ll be off to the races!

Learn more in our FEMA GO Guide

FEMA GO guide to apply for and manage grants

FEMA - Federal Emergency Management Agency

The Fund Finder News by Kurt Bradley

FEMA is transitioning its grant applications and grant management to a new system called the FEMA Grant Outcomes system, or FEMA GO. From now on, FEMA GO is how departments like yours will apply for and manage public safety grants such as Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG), Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response Grants (SAFER), and Fire Prevention & Safety Grants (FP&S).

How FEMA GO should benefit your organization

The intent behind FEMA GO is to have grants be managed in a more streamlined, user-friendly system. Over time, organizations like yours will be able to manage FEMA grants and other programs in one place.

This is a new system, and it is a big change. However, the new rules of the road are the new rules of the road. Once you are up and running, you should be ready to work in the new system to apply for and manage grants.

How to register on FEMA GO

Of course, first you’ve got to get set up.

For starters, the same E-BIZ contact for your department’s SAM.gov account has to set up your FEMA GO. (Note that FEMA GO doesn’t replace SAM but works in conjunction with SAM.)

FEMA has put together a step-by-step guide to help you register. According to FEMA, registering should take about 15 minutes.

Get the FEMA GO Registration Guide

Set up your organization and your grant writer on FEMA GO

As part of setting up your organization, you’ll also need to authorize your grant writer to be able to access any grants or applications in your account.

Once your account is set up, you’ll see a button that says “Add an AOR,” or, “Authorized Organizational Representative.” In order to access grants and account information relevant to your grants, you’ll need to add your grant writer as an AOR.

Important: An AOR is not the same thing as a contact. You can set up anyone as a contact, but contacts are not authorized to see, edit, or manage your grants and grant applications. Only AORs can view a grant and have access to the parts of the account they need in order to help with the grant.

The SAM.gov E-Biz contact who sets up the FEMA GO account must also set the AOR. In the case of the grant writer, the person must be set as an AOR, not simply as another grant contact.

Once the AOR is set, the AOR grant writer will be sent an email notification that they’ve been added as an AOR, and then the grant writer should be able to access your department’s grants in FEMA GO. 

Use FEMA GO to apply for grants, accept awards, and manage grants

FY 2018 AFG, SAFER, and FP&S are the first grants to be managed inside FEMA GO. As FY 2019 programs open for applications, those grants will also be applied for, monitored, and managed in FEMA GO. During 2020, departments can expect older grants under management to also be migrated into FEMA GO.

Updates for FEMA GO and FY 2019 fire grants

FEMA GO is a new system, and modifications and fixes are still underway.

As of Oct. 4, 2019, modules such as “Payment Request” are still in progress. Once deployed, this function will allow you to access and use your grant funds.

FY 2019 grant application periods will be announced at a later date. At this time, our understanding is that FY 2019 AFG will open during first week of December, and it will run through mid-January. Final dates have not been announced yet.

FEMA GO is a big change for how departments apply for and manage grants. However, before you know it .you can be up and running on FEMA GO, and hopefully new grants plus management of your current grants will be easier.

Questions or concerns? Contact our Certified Grant Consultants today.