The funding cycle for Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, grants is fast approaching. Whether you are applying to the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, or SAFER, Grant, or to one of the many other grants available from FEMA, DHS or TSA, the five tips and resources below will guide you through a successful grant journey.
Explore the Grant Websites
As with any grant opportunity, your organization must keep informed of upcoming opportunities well in advance of the due date. Preparation and planning are the keys to a strong grant proposal. Keep up to date by consistently checking information on grant opportunity websites.
Instructive information can be found by visiting the grants section on most agencies’ websites, whether the sites are state DHS, state EMA or federal agency sites. Funder websites, such as the previously noted FEMA site, are full of useful information. Funders want applicants to understand the process and submit a thorough, competitive application. Funding agencies want to fund great projects, so they want to help you better develop your proposal. Websites provide extensive details about the rules of funding programs, the guidelines, model programs, fundable projects, best practices, past awards, etc. Reviewing and understanding this information is only going to help you prepare a better grant application. Grant websites provide so much information. Take advantage of them!
Subscribe to Automatic Emails or RSS Feeds
As the previous point suggests, staying informed is the most important aspect of grant success. Therefore, subscribing to feeds and emails will increase your awareness of upcoming grant programs.
At the federal level, an RSS feed can be retrieved from the FEMA website and you can sign up for daily emails at the federal grants website. Your state funding agencies may also enable you to receive informational emails. Additionally, industry publications and journals may provide insight into new programs that become available. Again, it is imperative to stay informed and always know what is going on in your field so you can avoid missing grant opportunities.
Learn From Past Experiences
If your organization has received grant funding from FEMA before, you know what it takes to win. Make sure you continue to repeat the formula that has been proven to work.
If you have submitted an application and have been denied, there is much to learn from that loss. Immediately after your initial application was not funded, you should start preparing for next year’s deadline. Identify where you went wrong in your last proposal and create a plan for meeting those metrics this time around. Additionally, some funding agencies will review the losing proposal with you and offer tips on what improvements can be made. If they provide this feedback, take advantage of it as soon as possible. The feedback will help improve your proposal for next time. Taking the steps to prepare right after a loss will ensure that you are better positioned to submit your next proposal.
Focus on the Fund Your Organization Needs
We all want the latest technology and resources, but it is important to identify the differences between your agency’s needs and wants. You can determine what you need through research, data analysis and statistics from your agency’s experience throughout the year that support your case.
For example, you may want a fleet tracking system to support emergency response, but do you need it? What data and statistics can you use to determine that need? How can you show a funder that you need it? Ask yourself these types of questions and make a case for your needs. Remember, it is essential to back up your request with proven data.
Follow the Guidelines
Grant guidelines can be overwhelming at times, but you should read them all, and read them more than once.
Prepare your proposal based on those guidelines and take it step by step. Use all of the resources the funding agency has provided in order to help improve your knowledge of the program and how to write the best grant proposal. The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, for example, provides an informative, two-part federal grant-writing tutorial.
Understanding each grant program and what it funds will help you determine to which program to apply. Determine what you need and what program will fund it and then develop your plan. There is a plethora of assistance available, so tap those resources. Good luck on your grant journey!