Finding a Grant
One of the questions that you hear a lot is; “How do I find a grant?” Well there is good news and bad news here. The bad news, so we can get it out of the way, is that this takes time and research. The good news is that we are going to discuss tips and tricks on how to do this and be successful.
If you were sitting in an auditorium with lots of other firefighters and you looked left then right, there is a huge likelihood that one of the three of you have written a grant. So networking is so valuable in this. Ask others if they have applied for a grant, discuss the success or rejection they experienced, and such. This can be done at fire department meetings, officer meetings, chiefs associations, and state/national conferences. There are a lot of people normally at these types of events and likely there are others who can share information of what they have applied for and their experiences.
A tip for this part is business cards. If someone says they have grant writing experience, then ask for a card and if you can contact them in the future. Share a business card of yours with them. Build your grant writing network group. If you build it and you are sharing more and more, you can look into building a Facebook group or a Google documents account for sharing information.
Research for grants takes time. There is no easy way to do this other than hard work. So how do you do it?
You can start by doing keyword searches. An example of this would be searching for “fire grants.” Then you can review the results and make adjustments from there. Maybe your next search would be firefighter grants and so on. Be careful to ensure that any grants you find are current as sometimes funding agencies fail to remove grant pages once they are unable to maintain the grants.
Next, find out if your agency or partner agencies have access to pay for service grant systems. There are several systems that maintain listings for grants. Partner agencies may allow to use their system for free or potentially pay a small amount to partner with them. This would be cheaper than paying for the service yourself.
Finally, look at what businesses are within your first due and automatic aid areas (e.g. Wal-Mart, Costco). Then search if they have any grants. For example, you may search for Wal-Mart grants. There may not be a grant from that business but if they do the chances that it comes up high in the search results is good. The benefit of this is that you are tied to that business due to the location. They would rather fund a department that is connected with them as well. You must ensure that you still fit their priorities, and such but could work out better for you.
Maintain a Listing
As you are researching these grants, make a spreadsheet of the grants you find. Include in the spreadsheet due dates, how often the grant is open, and other important information. This will save you time in the future. When you determine a need, then you can go to your grant listing and find if there is a grant that works for that need. This is also a good document to share within your grant writing group, if you have one, to bolster your partnership with them in aiding each other.