Competition for grant dollars in the United States has been steadily increasing for several years, and we expect that trend to continue as the federal budget tightens and fewer allocations are made available to support state and local initiatives.
With the recent federal budget cuts and shifting funding priorities, now is a great time to learn about the current grant-funding landscape and take advantage of the opportunities available to you.
If you’re interested in how you could obtain funding, then check out our publication developed in conjunction with industry expert, Grants Office LLC —the Sheriff’s Guide to Grant Funding: 2013 edition.
This comprehensive guide includes:
- Grants overview
- Top Sheriff department funding opportunities for 2013
- Grant-seeking tips and hints
- Tackling proposal development
- Additional resources
Below are some hints and tips for grant-seekers taken directly from the guide.
Focus on functionality, not technology
When looking for grant funding to cover the cost of acquiring technology equipment or software, the most important thing to remember is that grants fund projects, not purchases. Most grants exist to solve a particular problem or deal with a particular issue, and leave it to the applicant to decide if and how much technology is appropriate to help solve the issue for which the grant exists.
Therefore, although there are several programs specifically designed to fund technology, the lion’s share of funding for technology comes from programs that are more functionally oriented, toward port security or transit security, for example, and technology is funded as part of the solution that advances these functions. In the early stages of grant-seeking, it is important to discuss specific departmental and project-oriented goals and outcomes, and seek out grants that will support these endeavors, rather than starting your search based on the need for technology alone.
Make your project an agency-wide priority
Typically, organizations are eligible for only one grant from a funding program’s annual solicitation. In that case, your technology project may be competing within your organization with other projects that could be eligible for funding under the grant program. As a result, it is important to take steps to advocate for the project throughout the organization.
This is especially important for grants that have a broader, more function-oriented scope, such as the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant. In this case, the applying law enforcement agency could use funds to purchase technology or specialized equipment or training. In most cases, the grant is focused on a particular type of project. The point here is to find the project that will generate the most organization-wide support (it may be planning and operations vs. IT infrastructure) and take steps to advocate for the project with decision-makers throughout the organizations.
Grants that are specifically designed to fund technology, such as COPS Law Enforcement Technology Grants, are less likely to have as much organization-wide competition, since they will be primarily targeted at IT projects.
Consider building collaborative partnerships
Funders like to support projects that have a broad impact and whose success can be disseminated to other areas. Building community-wide and inter-municipal collaborative partnerships allows you to demonstrate a capacity for both. Community-wide projects have a broad impact, across agencies and constituent groups, and inter-municipal projects allow for easy transfer of knowledge and experience gained by one participant to all the others.
During the grant-seeking process, you may often come across grants with deadlines for this year that have already passed. While this situation might seem like a missed opportunity, you can actually make it work to your advantage! You may have noticed that many of the deadlines listed in this guide are “forecasted.” Forecasted deadlines are unofficial estimated release dates based on the previous fiscal year’s timelines. Typically, the official deadline for a program will be released four to six weeks prior to the deadline date, leaving little time to prepare a thorough and compelling grant proposal. However, federal grant programs typically retain similar funding priorities and guidelines from year to year, so by researching past program guidelines and applications, you can give yourself a leg-up on the upcoming solicitation. For effective, long-term grant-seeking, map out a work-plan based on anticipated release dates, and start preparing your project and grant materials two to four months in advance, if possible.
The following table provides an example of a program-specific proposal development timeline:
|Proposal Development Stage||Days prior to deadline|
|Initial call with writer and applicant to begin process||60+|
|Identify needed data and collaborators for application||60|
|Provide background information and project definition to writer||50|
|First draft of proposal||30|
|Second draft of proposal, first draft of budget||20|
|Final draft of proposal narrative and budget approved by governing body||15|
|All forms completed and signed||10|
|Grant application submitted||5|
For more information, get your copy of the Sheriff’s Guide to Grant Funding: 2013 edition today.