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October 18, 2012

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Linda Gilbertson Grant Application First Aid Kit
with Linda Gilbertson

3 prep work secrets to meeting grant deadlines

A little prep work will make the entire process a bit more painless

For a lot of departments, the person responsible for finding and applying for grants has other responsibilities. But you can still have a successful grant program with less than full-time work.

The secret is in the preparation.

Some opportunities come up annually, which gives you plenty of time to get ready to hit that deadline. Others seem to come out of the blue, or are sought for a specific reason. Either way, a little prep work will make the entire process a bit more painless.

1.) It starts with the basics, or the information that is needed for just about any grant opportunity: your agency’s federal ID number, your DUNS number, your mission statement, your current annual budget, how you are funded and, for many applications, the last three years of your UCR numbers. While you’re at it, it’s a good idea to make sure your SAM registration is updated. There’s nothing worse than getting ready to submit a grant application and discovering that you need to do something as time-consuming and complicated as updating required registrations that should have already been done.

2.) Another frequently requested item is information about your agency and the jurisdiction you serve. Take the time, long before deadlines are looming, to create a paragraph or two about your agency – the number of officers and other employees, and your basic philosophy of policing (e.g., community policing, data-driven response) – and your jurisdiction – how many square miles, the geography, the population, general demographics, and other census data that will help you tell your story. Since much of this remains constant, this is something you can have ready to cut-and-paste into the application.

You may need to rewrite some parts, depending on the actual request from the funder, but having complete information at your fingertips will help you avoid the last minute panic that can set in when you need to find these details.

3.) Another way you need to prepare is in understanding the current needs and goals of your agency, both short- and long-term. This can take the form of maintaining a running list of proposed projects pre-approved by administration. You may also need to be a vital part of administrative meetings where these things are discussed. It saves a lot of time and effort while you are looking for grant opportunities if you know what you are actually looking for or what problem needs to be solved.  You may not find a perfect match, but if you fully understand what your agency is trying to accomplish, you will be able to assess if an opportunity could help you reach those goals.

Try not to approach a grant application thinking it's too daunting to get done. Break it apart, plan a little and get ready to secure the funds you need.

About the author

Linda Gilbertson is a Grant Professional with more than 15 years of experience writing and managing grants for both non-profit and government agencies. She has 12 years of law enforcement-related experience in grant writing, grant management, crime analysis, and research. She has been responsible for the acquisition of millions of dollars in federal, state and local grants during her career. Linda is also an award-winning journalist and has worked extensively with non-profit organizations in public relations and community education.