Grant Writing: See why it's Essential and How to start the Process
There are many departments that get additional funding from grants. Each year your agency gets a budget, but that doesn't necessarily cover all your departmental costs. Things also come up during the year that require additional funding like training or equipment - or PredPol! If your city or county is unwilling to provide additional funds, grants can be a great way for departments to get the funding they need to help cover these extra costs. It doesn’t matter what size your department is, grants are beneficial and worth the effort.
How do You Know What Grant is Right for Your Agency?
You may have to do some research first in order to find the right grant that will meet your department's needs. There are different categories you need to be aware of as well. Such categories include safety, human services, and environmental needs. Each grant has its own particular requirements that must be met in order for your agency to be eligible for funding. For example, if you find a grant that's right for your department but you've missed the submission cut off date, you either need to find a different grant or wait until it is open again.
Time to Get Writing. Now What?
When writing a grant proposal, there are five main factors to consider: departmental needs, approach, estimated outcomes, and additional funding in the future.
1- Departmental Needs. Discuss the needs of your department in depth. Talk about the issues you're experiencing, threat assessments, or vulnerabilities. Providing examples of results you've seen from other jurisdictions and discussing why now is the right time to address these needs is very helpful. PredPol can help provide you with success stories from other agencies.
2- Approach. This is when you talk about how the money will be spent, so make sure to be specific. You need to be able to describe how the project is going to help and why your approach is the best solution. You may also need to discuss other options you have evaluated and why they won't work (or have not been working).
3- Estimated Outcomes. Write out a list of benefits that you predict will be a result of your project, including any metrics or goals you plan to meet. Be sure that these are measurable, as you will need to report back at the end of the project, on the progress that was made. Some of these will be simpler to measure than others. They can include reduced rates of specific crime types, fewer calls for service, less overtime for your officers, better community relations, and so on.
4- Additional Funding for the Future. Just because you received the initial funding to kickstart a specific project doesn't mean that it won't need to be maintained. Make sure you also discuss what you plan to do once this first project ends. It is important that there is a long-term plan for your project so that those making the final decision know that you have thoroughly planned everything out. PredPol is an annual service, so you may include in your plans the fact that you will ask your city or county for funds the following year after you have proved that your approach is yielding measurable results.
5- Attention to Detail. The best advice you can get for grant writing is to look over the applications and lists of questions carefully. If it asks for exact information, make sure that you include it. Do not just submit the same narrative for each grant. Not answering the basic questions or including the exact information they ask for is a sure-fire way to get your proposal rejected. It is important to read over each grant's requirements thoroughly and adjust your writing accordingly.
Stay On It!
We get it, grant writing isn’t simple and fun. Just because a proposal is submitted, there is no guarantee you will get the money. Often, there are several departments applying for the same grant which means it can get very competitive. The best way to get funding is to keep the process streamlined and organized. A great way to do that is to assign the grant process to one specific person within the department. This makes it easier to ensure deadlines and requirements are met and proposals are submitted correctly. It takes time and perseverance, but it's worth the effort so that your department receives the funding it needs.
And finally - don't forget to ask PredPol for help! We work with dozens of agencies large and small, both police departments and sheriff's offices. We may be able to provide you with supporting data and tips from other successful agencies around the country.
Best of luck!
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