The Funding Lottery

I like to play a little game of what if's when I buy a lottery ticket. What if I win? What would I buy? What would I give my family or my friends? I never question whether I would claim the money.

Being awarded a grant is a lot like winning the lottery. These funds are boon to today's cash-strapped agencies, providing funds to invest in critical training, needed services and life-saving equipment. But what happens if you are awarded a grant and never receive the money? Or just never bothered to claim it?

A Department of Justice audit by Inspector General Glenn Fine found leftover money from thousands of expired grants between October 1997 and December 2005 sat unused for a number of reasons, including: a failure to distribute the funds in a timely fashion — before the grants expired — as well as delays requested by state and local authorities.

While much of the problem resides within the grant distribution process itself, some also lies within police ranks. The fact is, money is available but it requires persistence and hard work to get the ultimate pay out.

A complete grant application that answers any and all possible questions is one way to reduce this bottleneck. A qualified grant application:

  • Identifies the problem and justifies the need for the funds.
  • Emphasizes interagency collaboration and demonstrates community support for the project.
  • Discusses your agency's qualifications and capacity to implement projected funds.
  • Includes a budget.
  • Discloses an evaluation plan to assess the project's effectiveness.
  • Follows submission guidelines and arrives by the filing deadline.

And remember, your work doesn't end once the application is approved, either. Keep tabs on where your money is at and keep after officials for that final payout. For as in the lottery, the winning ticket means nothing if it goes unpaid or unclaimed.