Grant Writing Tips
So you want to write a grant. You may be reading this and are just about as lost as you can be in this task. Well, good news. We are going to review some tips on how to be successful at grant writing.
First, network. You are not alone in this. There are many people who write grants. Some are rookies and some may be seasoned veterans with lots of success to share. Talk to others about this. Reach out to agencies that have been awarded a grant. Fire Engineering often shares Facebook posts or other information concerning successful grant awardees. Do not be afraid to call and ask them questions. Just make sure that you are aware of their time. Call or e-mail and schedule a time to talk.
Second, spend a lot of time researching online. There is a lot of information out there. In this digital age we are in, there is good information and there is bad information. For example, I did a search for certain grants in a particular state. Out of two pages of possible grants, at least one page of those grant opportunities were no longer available, thus wasting time. Do not get frustrated at this point. This will likely be only one of multiple roadblocks.
Next, get help from others in your agency. Call it a grant writing committee. The purpose of this is to get others who have expertise in some area to help you. You cannot be a jack-of-all trades in grant writing. You need someone who does a great job in research. You need an influential writer. You will need someone who can work with multiple vendors. Work together to make this process successful.
If possible, go to training on grant writing. Some community colleges and universities have courses on grant writing. Some fire schools and conferences are offering grant writing courses. Attend what you can. However, trust but verify this information. Once I attended a grant writing lecture and the instructor said that they received 95% or more of all grants that they applied. This is not normally the case as there are a lot of people wanting grant funding but only a few that get funded. Success in my opinion is around 1/3 to ½ of what you apply to get.
Make sure to give yourself plenty of time for the proposal. These proposals or applications are the only way that the funding agency will know anything about you. Therefore, you want your application to be awesome. This proposal/application should showcase all the hard work that your department does for your citizens and community. Do not wait until the last minute to do the work.
Finally, make sure your chief or ranking officer is in support from the start. This is essential, otherwise you are likely to waste time. Get permission to write the grant(s) and keep the chief informed at all times. It is likely that they will have to sign off on the application. If you keep them informed through the process the final step of signing and submitting will be easier. In addition, the chief can help you cut through red tape and other roadblocks due to their experiences with similar roadblocks.
There are many other tips and we will discuss them in upcoming months. Good luck and keep writing!