It's a lonely job sometimes. Good results are hard to see and long in coming. Often there is frustration. It can be a thankless job. No, I'm not talking about the plight of law enforcement professionals. I'm actually talking about being the grant preparer for your department! Still, someone has to do it. There IS money out there, and you DO have to ask for it, and you DO have to follow the rules to get your share.
There are a number of basic, but very important actions you can take to be successful in pursuit of a grant. The key is that most grant, public or private, are looking for the same information. The format may vary, but the essentials are the same.
Know Your Department and Community
Have a firm grasp of the demographics; size of the department, number of paid officers, significant crime statistics, area patrolled (square miles), and general population are the basics.
Cleary Define Your Need
Be specific. What will you do with the money or equipment? What will you buy? How will you use it? How will it better arm you to solve the significant challenges within your department and community?
Respond to the Grant Objectives
While most grants ask for the same general information, each one usually has a very distinct stated objective, whether it is to protect seaports, protect large urban areas, or respond to terrorists actions. Be sure to acknowledge that objective in your narrative. To win consideration, your defined need must line up with the grant objectives.
The Things That Grant Reviewers Expect
Put yourself in the shoes of the grant reviewer. Are you submitting the information and the assertions that will make sense? Is your submittal relevant to the grant objectives? Is your submittal clear, concise and well organized? Have you clearly demonstrated a need with expected results if your department was awarded the grant? Have you demonstrated a consistency with other local, regional and statewide plans? If you can answer these questions in the affirmative, then you are heading in the right direction.
Gather Your Information Now
A final tip: gather your information NOW! Don't wait for that time-pressured application to hit your desk. Do the research and build the framework of common information early, and you will have it at your fingertips when that opportunity surfaces. Then all you will have to do is tailor your information to the grant specific criteria. That way, you will have more time to go grant hunting, and you'll spend less time sweating the details. Happy funding!