Every day, grant funding alerts arrive in our email inboxes. Knowing the task- and deadline-driven work we will have to take on, these emails are likely the last ones opened. Yes, we’ve already started the procrastination journey by not even reading the possible work ahead. Thankfully, a few of the major federal grant funding opportunities have more days between the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) and the actual due date. However, many of the smaller grant competitions provide an application window of 30-45 days. This blog post will tap the wisdom of a veteran grant writers who share their advice on how to properly prepare.
How do you know if you’re ready to go for the big bucks that Uncle Sam doles out in the 2016 federal fiscal year? Well, I have my own ideas about getting ready, and you’ll be able to join me on an upcoming webinar series that I’ll be presenting for grant preparedness. For this blog post, I sent queries to some of the top grant writing consultants in the country who are also affiliated with eCivis to gather their wisdom on the subject.
On EDA Public Works Grants
Tom Sills, a Certified Planner with the American Planning Association and a transportation planner with 32 years of public sector grants-related experience, helped a client navigate through the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant readiness process. His estimate:
"I would expect to have an EDA Public Works application completed and reviewed within four months with a motivated client and job creator on board; a little longer when those key players are not present."
Read more about EDA grant opportunities here: https://www.eda.gov/funding-opportunities/
About U.S. DOT Discretionary Grants
Danny W. Blitch, MPA, GPC, a 22-year grant development/writing consultant, grants manager, and author with multiple areas of specialization related to municipal government, assisted a client in winning an $18 Million TIGER grant. He shares his experience in winning DOT grant awards:
“Getting your organization TIGER Discretionary Grant ready is a lengthy two-step process. The first step is a mandatory pre-application due last year in May. The final TIGER application is due only a month later. Project readiness is so important that the USDOT publishes additional guidelines on their website, http://www.transportation.gov/tiger/guidance. Get started today!”
On the Importance of Overall Grant Readiness
Donna Caye, CPM, a 20-year veteran grant writing consultant specializing in research, writing, editing, and peer review in multiple areas of expertise, helped a county sheriff’s office win an $84,000 U.S. Department of Homeland Security FEMA Port Security Grant award. Here are her insights on the importance of grant readiness:
"I can’t stress this enough: planning is absolutely vital to the grant process. How can you explain need to a grantor if you don’t understand it yourself? Why would your project be funded if it’s not clear what it is? Who benefits? Where the funds will go? Who’s responsible for reporting, administering, or fiscal oversight? If you know your organization, your purpose, your strengths, and your goals (short and long term), you have the building blocks to a plan. What are you trying to accomplish – not only with this project, but with all your efforts over the years? Write it down. Write it again. Write a Plan B while you’re at it. Gather a team – a great team – of experts and staff and folks who have a stake in your project’s success and are rooting for its success. Then plan for being awarded (how will you manage the influx of funds and ensure the project is on track?) and plan for not being awarded (where to look now, and how can we better prepare for the next application?).Your plan will help you prepare your organization to succeed and will prove to grantors that you are, indeed, ready to receive funding and to complete a sustainable, grant-worthy project."
You can track the Port Security Grant Program at the following link: https://www.fema.gov/port-security-grant-program
On Parks and Recreation Trust Fund Grants
Kathy Parker, a 21-year grants consultant and grant manager specializing in municipal parks projects, helped a county win an $290,000 state Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant. Here's her grant readiness advice:
"Grant readiness is critical. There is so much that can be done before a grant source is even identified ... like documenting your organizational and financial strengths, spelling out the skills and abilities of leaders and staff, demonstrating your experience, and gathering touching stories of how your organization has impacted individuals and families, to name a few."
Link to find your state’s contacts for grant Land and Water Conservation Fund grant information: http://www.nps.gov/ncrc/programs/lwcf/contact_list.html
- Start planning before the NOFA is published and a grant application due date has been set in stone.
- Prepare immediately after the grant funding cycle you wanted to apply for, but hadn't the met the requirements for, has closed.
- Create a stick-to-it workplan for planning; get the required partners on board with your project, and writing, editing, and submitting your final grant application package – ON TIME!
LinkedIn Profiles for Selected eCivis Consulting Partners
Tom Sills: https://www.linkedin.com/in/twsills
Danny Blitch: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danny-blitch-gpc-613b7614
Donna Caye: https://www.linkedin.com/in/donnacaye
Kathy Parker: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathy-parker-39209718