This publication explores the advantages of having a strategic plan in line with a departmental-wide mission to drive stronger grant performance and efficiency within law enforcement grants.
A Coordinated Approach
With decreasing budgets, local governments are often asked to find alternative funding sources through state, federal, and foundation grants. In addition, funding concerns may not be clear. Grant professionals may face a lack of direction and be left with a portfolio of grants that may not necessarily fit their specific needs. For instance, a sheriff may challenge his staff to secure more funding for equipment, prompting the staff to pursue and win a grant for equipment to improve DNA collection and analysis for crime labs. Winning such a grant would normally be perceived as a success, but in this case, the particular entity does not have a crime lab that can benefit from the award. While this example may seem like a stretch, this scenario happens more often than not, leaving many local governments with grants that require more work to maintain and a misallocation of already limited resources.
While not every department may have a formal strategic plan or list of priorities, we recommend that pursued grants be based on a collectively understood need faced by the organization, department, or community. Is the community facing an increase in crime? Who is committing the crime? Where is the crime being committed? Is the crime being committed by juveniles who need to be engaged in other activities? Does it accompany a high unemployment rate? Has there been an increase in the number of drunk driving arrests? If you look at the needs within the community you serve, you can link your grant search directly to such areas. This will strengthen your grant proposals and will enable you to:
Prepare narratives based on previously gathered information, such as project scope, organizational need, and statistics. Ideally, if the narrative is based on a part of a public strategic plan, there may even be local media press surrounding the particular issue to further demonstrate the proposition.
Gather support from leadership, which can promote more efficient response times in regards to necessary signatures or approvals. (Are local politicians feeling pressure from the community to respond to issues? If so, they are usually more than willing to sign letters of support and offer their support).
Leverage existing resources, especially financial resources, committed to the effort. An initiative tied to a strategic plan may mean that match requirements are more likely going to be approved by the governing body.
Maintain grant functions and objectives in line with broader, longer-term initiatives to provide more stability for grant professionals.
Minimize duplication of efforts, as departments work collaboratively to address a multi-faceted issue or need. For example, a public safety improvement initiative may involve the Sheriff’s Department, Public Works, Health and Human Services, and Public Health, to name a few. As all sources of funding become more competitive, those organizations that can demonstrate they collaborate with other community agencies have an edge over those who do not. Collaboration tells funders that services will not be duplicated and that everyone is working together to solve a community issue.
- Increase your success rate. Funding agencies are more likely to support your project if you articulate your mission and programming strategy in ways that are truthful and compelling. In some instances, your proposal may be awarded additional points, such as with the Department of Transportation’s Office of Greenways and Trails state pass-through grant.
The bottom line is that the proper alignment of a strategic plan with the organization-wide mission ensures sustainability. In other words, following a continuous approach will not only improve your organization, but will also benefit the public being served.