Ballam: 'Tis The Season -- To Write Grants

Writing an AFG grant is a little like playing the lottery. With a little luck, you might get some money, but you've got to "buy the ticket" to win.

Sure, you might hear about grant superstar department’s that receive hundreds of thousands of dollars year after year. What’s there secret? I don’t know. But I do know the chance of losing big are greater than the chances of winning big.

And, unfortunately, the AFG program never tells you exactly why the grant was not successful. Sure, they do provide some generalities, but specifics are skimpy.

Year after year, thousands of fire departments play the game, fill out the applications and hope and pray they win the proverbial federal grant lottery.

A bit of advice for those contemplating purchases. Don’t count on the grant. Luck is still in play for even the best written grants submitted by the most deserving fire departments. Usually, the evaluators, which are our peers, get it right and allocate the funding to where it’s needed most. The trouble is, there are way more deserving needs and departments than there is money to fund them all.

It’s tough investing all that time and energy into writing grants that are not successful. But, you know what, you gotta buy a ticket to win the lottery.

So log on, get your stuff together and send it before the Dec. 6 deadline. It’s the least you can do for your taxpayers. And, who knows -- you may win.

In the meantime, be thinking of a funding “Plan B,” because our firefighters must still be afforded all the protection, training and equipment they need.

Time to wrap this one up. I’ve got my own grant writing to do.  Now where are my passwords?