Last Thursday’s ICMA webinar, “Grant Writing 101: Tips for Small Communities,” was an hour and a half well spent for anyone involved in municipal grant writing. The engaging webinar had a high turnout and was co-presented by Dr. Beverly Browning (“Dr. Bev”), Vice President of Grants Professional Services for the grant research firm eCivis, and Lt. Pat Mialy, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for the Loveland Fire Rescue Authority, and offered general and nuanced advice for small municipalities.
The gems of the webinar were a dime a dozen, but a great takeaway was the extensive Q&A between Dr. Bev and Lt. Mialy and the municipal audience. What follows is a paraphrased sample from that discussion, with links to the webinar and other sources following.
Have you heard of using local businesses in the application process?
If a business has been a part of the community long enough, then it’s a great idea. For example, if a project involves a downtown façade upgrade, having a couple businesses write about loss of foot traffic, evacuation of downtown, and its importance can provide some real heartfelt points to the application.
What process is required to acquire matching funds?
When you’re planning your grant year, you should also bring in the finance/business department to determine what dollars are available for a hard cash match (cash reserves set aside for matching funds). But if in-kind match is allowed, you want to develop your in-kind options. Consider how your indirect costs are and how in-kind can assist.
What other businesses offer grants to local communities?
Consider bank chains like Bank of America and Chase, and insurance companies like Allstate. All have grant-funding programs, both foundation and corporate grant-making programs. Look for businesses that have a parent company.
When filling out an application, do you use the maximum amount of pages allowed?
If you make your point and it’s strong and flows well, don’t feel obligated to use the entire space provided. But there’s nothing wrong with using every character and page that’s available.
What’s the typical time frame for federal grant cycle?
Once you see the announcement, you have about 30 days to qualify, research, and submit. You’re lucky to have 45-60 days. Some programs even come out less than 30 days before submission deadline. But if you monitor the Federal Register online and set up alerts, you can know when they’re in the public comment phase. So, as they’re crafting the NOFA, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what it will look like. You can also contact the program officer and get ready ahead of time and possibly even have a 60-day start.
- ICMA’s on-demand webinar, “Grant Writing 101: Tips for Small Communities."
- Loveland Fire Rescue Authority case study. In April 2012, the fire authority’s two eCivis-peer-reviewed AFG applications were awarded for a total of $1.13 million. Funding went toward radios and self-contained breathing apparatus, making day-to-day operations significantly safer.
- One of our most popular downloadable articles: