Being the grants go-to person means you will be responsible for many decisions made — beginning with whether or not to even pursue the opportunity
The basic job of a law enforcement grant writer — or grant manager, or whatever you are called in your agency — is to maximize all grant and funding opportunities available to ensure your officers have everything they need to do their jobs effectively and safely.
Simple, right? Well, if you’ve spent even a single grant cycle in your position, you know it’s anything but simple.
The truth is, being the grants go-to person means you will be responsible for many decisions made — beginning with whether or not to even pursue the opportunity.
Gathering Your Information
Making that decision takes information — lots of information — and most of it comes from you. This begins with the solicitation, sometimes referred to as the Request for Proposal (RFP). Some can be as short as a few paragraphs, but others (such as federal opportunities) can be 30 to 40 pages long.
It is your job to create a clear, concise document that provides as much information as is needed for the initial decision to be made. This should include:
• Application due date (do you have enough time to complete the application?)
• Project time frame (when the funded project starts and ends)
• Amount of funding available (there may be a minimum amount as well as the maximum)
• What the funder expects to see (program design, anticipated outcomes, performance measures)
• Are partners required?
• What will and won’t be funded (equipment, training, personnel costs)
• Reporting requirements (quarterly programmatic and financial reports, data collection)
• Anything else you see in the solicitation that’s important
Now that you’ve got your information together, you have to make a decision about whether or not you will pursue the funding process.
Saying ‘No’ to an Opportunity
As a grant professional, you understand that most funders (especially federal) expect you to pay for whatever you expend for your project and then submit a reimbursement request. Is that something your agency can afford to do? Do you have to come up with a match, either monetary or in-kind? Sometimes these factors can lead to saying ‘no’ to an opportunity.
It is important to be a realist when it comes to grants. Not every opportunity fits the way you want it to. You can change your project to fit the funder’s needs, but that may not give you what you really want. It may be best try to find a more-compatible grant opportunity.
Finally, sometimes you can be working on an application when you realize that there really isn’t sufficient time to pull everything together for a viable application to meet the due date, or a partner isn’t doing their part in getting the information needed, or the data collection requirements are out of the capability of your agency. It may be time to pull the plug on the project.
It’s not fun, but it happens. Move on to the next opportunity. That’s part of your job, too.
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