At press time, the grant application deadline has just closed for this yearâ€™s Assistance to Firefighterâ€™s Grant Program. The peer-review process for grant applications is just about to begin. A battle also has ensued on Capitol Hill regarding fiscal year 2007â€™s funding level...
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At press time, the grant application deadline has just closed for this yearâ€™s Assistance to Firefighterâ€™s Grant Program. The peer-review process for grant applications is just about to begin. A battle also has ensued on Capitol Hill regarding fiscal year 2007â€™s funding level. A proposed budget of $293 million for fiscal year 2007 is 46% lower than the 2006 funding of $545 million. Regardless of the final outcome of the funding level for fiscal year 2007, one thing is for sure: as we go forward, grant funds will be more competitively sought after than ever before.
If your fire department is rural, with a limited budget to throw at improving grant writing, there are a number of inexpensive resources out there that you can use to help improve the odds of a successful grant award. Before we discuss these resources, let us review some top-level grant-writing and funding-source issues. Funding sources for grants can be divided into two broad categories: corporate and governmental. We will examine corporate funding in this article; however, many of the issues we will discuss also apply to governmental funding, including the development of a clearly stated and highly focused Customer Value Proposition.
After identifying a potential corporate grant-funding source, you will need to know if and how your fire organization matches up to both the broad and technical acceptance categories of the grant institution. You have upfront investigative work to do to find out! When approaching a corporation for funding, research as much as possible about its grant foundation. As a first step, find out who the past grant recipients are and how much money has been awarded. How does the mission of other grant awardeesâ€™ programs compare to that of your organization? Can you write a clear, concise, and short mission statement about your departmentâ€™s grant request that closely matches the intent and mission of the prospective grantorâ€™s foundation? From there you can proceed to formulate an action plan.
Your grant proposal and the actions you take to market it to the grantor need to highlight the benefit of your program to the prospective grantorâ€™s organization, not the benefit to you. Remember, â€œItâ€™s all about them!â€
For a hypothetical example, say you have a geriatric center in town thatâ€™s home to 25 elderly residents. You have identified a potential funding source in a supplier of medical devices to that geriatric center. Initial research into the medical device manufacturer discovered that it has awarded grants in the past to assist organizations that have a common vision with the company â€“ improving the quality of life for the elderly.
Your department does not own a thermal imaging camera, but could desperately use one for search and rescue at fire responses throughout your district, including the geriatric center. You have potentially found a â€œwin-winâ€ situation â€“ your grant-marketing plan and written grant request focus on the benefits of thermal imaging technology for the community, which includes its lifesaving potential when used during fire response to the geriatric facility.
The â€œwin,â€ or â€œwhatâ€™s in it for them,â€ for the medical device manufacturer in approving your grant is the goodwill the company will generate with the facilityâ€™s staff and the community. The creation of goodwill, while intangible, is an essential part of the companyâ€™s continuing business success. By taking this approach, you have made it a lot easier for the prospective grantor to say, â€œYes.â€
One most important element in your grant writing work will be the clear conveyance of a focused â€œCustomer Value Proposition.â€ Before we review what a Customer Value Proposition is, we should define the word â€œvalue.â€ What is value? Websterâ€™s Unabridged Dictionary defines value as, â€œrelative worth, merit or importance.â€ In the fire rescue service, I define the word â€œvalueâ€ as the competitive advantage we give to our customers.