Fire grants: Why did my AFG grant get rejected?

4 reasons your AFG fire grant didn’t get funded

FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFG) is the country’s largest fire grant program. It’s also fiercely competitive. During FY2021 alone, AFG received thousands of applications, each vying for a slice of the program’s $414 million allocation. Naturally, not every grant gets funded. But if you’ve applied for AFG, you are likely wondering “why did my AFG grant get rejected?”

Some of those reasons are pretty plain jane. Some are more subjective. Here are 4 reasons your AFG fire grant didn’t get funded—and a few tips on what you can do better next time.

1. Your application never got past the computer scoring.

AFG fire grant applications go through two main rounds of consideration. The first is completely by computer, and has no human involvement in the actual application review and scoring process. Essentially, the computer is checking quantitative aspects of your application, counting up the score for those sections, and seeing if the application scores high enough to move forward. If your application’s score was too low, your grant won’t be moving forward under that fiscal year’s program.

2. The items you applied for weren’t a high enough priority under the program.

Not all AFG requests are created equal. Every year when FEMA releases the program’s application guidelines, it will include lists of which items or initiatives are considered low, medium, or high priority. Given how competitive the program is, low-priority items typically just do not stand out enough to get funded. Medium-priority requests don’t stand a much better chance. In most program years, if your application isn’t encompassing a high-priority request, odds are it won’t stay in the running.

3. Not enough data and details.

Grants aren’t just about stating a need. They’re about proving why you need the grant more than someone else. When a grant gets rejected, a common reason is that the application didn’t convey the need. Often there’s not enough data about finances, demographics, injuries, or critical infrastructure to bolster your case. Grants aren’t just about the numbers though. They’re also about bringing across the on-the-ground need for why you are applying, and why not receiving these funds compromises the safety of your organization and/or your community.

4. Peer review didn’t give your application the thumbs-up.

When an application successfully moves past computer scoring, it goes out for peer review. Fire service professionals from around the country come together to look over applications and decide which ones deserve to get funded. Those winning applications have to bring across the data, priority, and story about why they, and not someone else, deserves an AFG grant the most.

AFG is competitive, but winnable

This breaks down a few common reasons why a fire service organization’s AFG grant got rejected. And no matter what, when it comes to grants, rejection is a part of the process.

So is trying again.

We work with fire service organizations all the time who were rejected for AFG one year, but tried again and won. There is no secret sauce or magic bullet to winning AFG. But there is making sure you have a solid, compelling application, for high-priority items, every year.

AFG is a tough game. Rejection is likely. But like our clients who have won millions in FY2021 AFG alone, you can also be an AFG winner.

Are you ready to write your best AFG application?

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