Why register? ...To Enhance Your Experience
+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 16 of 16
  1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Western NY
    Posts
    209

    Default Overwriting narratives

    HELP! Is it possible to overwrite the grant narrative? We submitted a proposal that seemed flawless. It explained our project, why we asked for the quantity we asked for, variables in our district that supported the need (aside from the obvious, which we acknowledged) and why our tax dollars can't support it. I have looked at some other successful proposals that have a quarter of the information and are getting awarded in the first rounds. Last year we were rejected in the last rounds of the AFG and FP&S programs. Can it be that too much information turns them off? The first proposal I did two years ago was awarded about half-way through the program.


  2. #2
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    11

    Default overwriting

    Yes, you can easily overwrite. What everyone needs to know is this...there are three firefighters of various ranks sitting around a table, after possibly being out "late". They are being reminded every half hour about how many grants need to be reviewed by the end of the day. It is different guys, different outlooks, different days. It is not scientific in anyway. Too much writing can equal too much work. If your main points are not easily found, such as the use of space and all caps showing "BENEFIT TO COMMUNITY", and time is ticking you might get scored low, it happens...I was one of the peer group in the past.

  3. #3
    FH Mag/.com Contributor
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Cypress, TX
    Posts
    7,288

    Default

    This year about 10 minutes or less was given to each app in peer review. It's important to show that the background work was done to come to the project you applied for as being the right one for your department, but sometimes too many numbers can bog things down and detract from the message you're trying to get across. Also, too many different arguments trying to support your cause can have the same effect. Clear AND concise is the best way to go.

    This is why if you're not going to enlist the services of a grant consultant, I always recommend having a high school teacher or college professor read the narrative. They're used to seeing fluff, as well as disconnected or drag-on arguments, and can help ensure the proper message get across and not lost. I'll elaborate more in Article #3, coming next month after I get back from vacation. Coincidentally enough, it's about Narrative Development.

  4. #4
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Linwood, NC
    Posts
    469

    Default

    To elaborate on what BC and Ksmith have added, you can always get others opinions as well. The first year I worked on a grant, had never written one before. We let about 5 people read it (everyone from the Mayor to other FFs) prior to submitting.

    When I work with my departments now, 5 1/2 years + later (wow, I'm old...LOL) I try to keep it to about 3 pages or less, and as the gentleman above stated clear and concise. If I don't understand something, re-reading it, at 3 AM, then I scrap it. Because someone sitting on a peer panel at 4 PM in the afternoon after reading 400 in 2 days (or would that be 1 day???) and waiting for the local pub?! isn't going to do more than a cursory read. There has to be some reason for them to read more than the first paragraph. If it goes downhill from there....well, you can forget it. If you repeat yourself (even unintentionally) you're gonna loose them.

    Or if you just drag on and on...trying to keep hammering them- Nada.

    **And, YES you can DEFINATELY OVERWRITE something. Have read many, many a narrative in my day that has been overwritten. Know the old saying, "know when to keep your mouth shut?" Same thing here. Sometimes, you have to trust the guys on the peer panel (and gals, I guess) that they aren't idiots, and can grasp your 'dream' in a few pages. Don't whack 'em upside the head with it, or shove it down their throat with Too Much Info!
    Last edited by dixiechicknc; 07-12-2005 at 05:09 PM.

  5. #5
    MembersZone Subscriber ktb9780's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Auburndale, FL
    Posts
    5,933

    Default

    The immortal words of "Officer Joe Friday" come to mind; "just the facts". Clearly addressing the priorities stated, utilizing "sight psychology", as Brian suggested and others, grabs the attention focuses them for 6 minute and then its on to the next one.

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Western NY
    Posts
    209

    Default Thanks

    Well, I think we are, pardon my language, screwed. Our narrative was all of four pages long and got pretty heavy into the not so obvious variables in our district. We didn't really get too much into the numbers game. I think if we get rejected for this one, I quit. The department deserves the money and we're obviously doing something wrong. I don't know what more to do about it! Thanks everyone for the input. We'll just wait for now ...

  7. #7
    MembersZone Subscriber gefd901's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    141

    Default

    I don't think you are screwed just because you have a 4 page narrative. Keep it short, sweet, simple and just present the facts is fine and dandy if it gets your point across and gets you funded. Sometimes, it may take more than 2 short and sweet pages to address your issues. I thinks it depends on what you have to say and how it is presented. If it takes 4 or 5 pages and is presented properly, it will get read and will score high enough to get you funded if it meets the program priorities and objectives.
    We have been extremely fortunate.
    2002 4 page narrative - funded for personal PASS devices / accountability system, gloves and goggles.
    2003 - 5 page narrative - funded for sprinkler and alarm system for the station, walkie talkies, defibrillators, train the trainer training for CPR / AED instructor and CPR mannequins.
    2004 - 4 page narrative - funded for new pumper
    2005 - 5 page narrative - received e mail questions on 06/16/05 for new SCBA and bottles, cascade system, fill station, thermal imaging camera, train the trainer training for Fire Instructor I, lap top, power point projector and screen for instructors.

  8. #8
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Linwood, NC
    Posts
    469

    Default

    Way to go! You're batting a perfect score...

    Ksmith, Don't go looking for a bridge just yet or saying you are quitting. I had one department that was so convinced they screwed up their 05 app and would never be funded they hired me to come in (after submission) and review everything and go over what things they could start working on to be ready for next round. Great idea, right. I thought so (this was only 2 weeks after the close of 05 apps). Anyway, received call from them about a month ago they got the questions!

    There were some issues with their 05 app. However, the peer panel is a jury of YOUR peers...not MY peers (meaning grant writers/consultants ) so, if you have a decent project and haven't screwed yourself with totally incorrect info in the app portion - you have a good shot. So, don't give it up yet. If you want to email me, ksmith, about your narrative, I'll be glad to read it and give ya my opinion, for all it's worth (or not worth... )

    good luck!

  9. #9
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    3,689

    Default

    ksmith31,

    Take a deep breath and relax. As you know the only control that we have over this program is filling out the application and developing our narrative. Beyond that the whole process is out of our cotrol.

    We can't cotrol when they make the award announcemnets.
    We can't cotrol when they issue the DJ's.
    We can't control who reviews our narratives, the time or day that they do it.

    Don't second guess what you did. It will only eat you up and provide for alot of sleepless nights.

    If your narrative covers all of the points they were looking for, then you should be sitting pretty. As for the length of the narrative, it all depends on what you are looking for. If you are looking for 1 item than it probably will be on the short side. If applying for multiple items or complicated item it will be longer, only because you need to justify the items. Over the last 3 years my narratives have ranged from 3 pages for vehicle exhaust system (2003), about 4 pages for PPE (2004)and nearly 5 pages for a brush unit (2205).

    I'm in the same boat as you and thousands of others just waiting to see if its yea or nea.

    If you like I can review your narrative and give some input. Just e-mail it along.

  10. #10
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Western NY
    Posts
    209

    Default Thanks

    Thank you to everyone who responded. I appreciate the offers to read the narrative. This may sound silly but I'm almost embarassed to sent it along. It's too late now anyways. I do wish there was more timely communication. Just let us know what stage of the game they are at. We know the computer scoring is complete ... how come they can't notify those who didn't make it past the computer? They can have a disclaimer that states "if for some reason funds become available and we make it far enough down the list to award you money, we will let you know. For now, look elsewhere." I'd appreciate knowing that now and not waiting. I will keep everyone posted if I hear anything. Thanks again for the responses. I think I need to up my blood pressure meds
    Last edited by ksmith31; 07-13-2005 at 10:28 AM.

  11. #11
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    1

    Default

    Just a note on the length of narrative. I am a retired professor who, in my professional career, wrote a number of successful proposals to both public and private agencies. In 2003, I was asked to write a proposal for a new pumper, to replace a 1956 model, for a small town(pop. 600). When I saw that the proposal could be no longer than 5.5 pages, I blanched. My feeling was, when there are going to be over 20,000 proposals, if you don't get your hooks into the reader in the first paragraph or two, you are a dead duck. So, I worked my butt off writing a narrative of one page---no boilerplate---just the bare facts. In reality, this is probably a bit more difficult than writing a 5-page narrative. I'm sure there was a bit of luck involved, but we were successful to the tune of $200K+. Remember---the reviewers don't want to wade through 2-3 pages of BS before they get to what you really want. In fact, they probably won't.

    Just my thoughts on a complex question.

    Dr. Don

  12. #12
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Johnstown , Pa
    Posts
    366

    Default

    I agree with BC on letting a teacher read it. I am a Teacher with a Degree in English, who just happens to be a fire Chief. We have recieved 2 grants so far. This year we have recieved our 1199a and questions for a $225,000 grant for pumper. Stations in my county ask me to read grants for them, and I can say I have been a part of 8 total grants in 3 years.
    Go to your local school and ask..it can't hurt.

  13. #13
    MembersZone Subscriber ktb9780's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Auburndale, FL
    Posts
    5,933

    Default

    Good advice from all who have responded. Some of us can get it done in two pages, others take 5. Personally, most of ours, that we did this year were 4- 5 pages, and 31 of those departments have their notices already, so go figure.


    KB
    Chief Grants

  14. #14
    Forum Member RLFD14's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    562

    Default

    FWIW, as some of you know from reading my other posts on certain topics, I can get downright rambly. My narrative was over the limit and had to be trimmed down. Each time I cut something I felt like I was sacrificing important info, but obviously it couldn't have been too important, because we got the questions and the 1199A. My first year as grant writer. I guess my point is to not despair just because your narrative was long, I am an example of how a long narrative is not an automatic grant killer.

    Or maybe I was just lucky and was on top of the pile.
    You only have to be stupid once to be dead permanently
    - - - - - -
    I A C O J

  15. #15
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    CT
    Posts
    35

    Default

    kmsmith31,

    There are always going to be two of thoughts on overwriting.....

    One is keep it short and sweet as after sitting for many hours the peer review just starts to flip through them.

    Then there is the route I've always taken and have always overwritten.

    I'm with you in seeing some of the narratives. And with all due respect to other FDs narratives I've seen some that were 1 page, didn't say much as to why it couldn't be funded or the need, but were funded (My humble opinion and not ment to bash anyone in the slighest).

    So, with respect to overwriting I wouldn't worry to much, mine have always been close to 5 pages. Always made sure I put all the reasons soup to nuts as to why it couldn't be funded, demographics, etc, etc.

    My thought has always been that it is a competitive grant process and I need to let them know everything and made darn sure that I put all the reasons from soup to nuts as to why it can't be funded, demographics, etc, etc... And I've done rather well for my FD.

    2001- $16,000 for FF1/2 training materials [First Round]
    2002- $80,000 for extrication equipment [Third Round]
    2003- $45,000 for to upgrade radios [27th round??? slipped that year]
    2004- $320,000 for a Custom Class A Pumper [8th round]

    But then again I must admit, in 2003 I assisted 2 other FDs and wrote shorter narratives and they were both granted. Both were for much badly needed PPE, which has always been a priority. In 2004 I wrote another for one of the same FDs for radios (narrative was similar to my 2003 and they were granted around the same time in 2004 that I had been in 2003, round 30 or something).....

    Best of Luck all the same....

  16. #16
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Southwestern, Pa
    Posts
    167

    Default

    I guess finding the "right" length for a winning narrative is a hard problem to solve. Mine have always been on the long side 3.5-4.5 pages. Perhaps I go into too much detail in making sure there are no "holes" in my answers. At the AFG seminars "they" say explain it in the narrative because the pannelists don't know if you don't tell them, except the standards which should just be referneced. I guess my desire to answser all possible questions results in a longer narrative.
    However, with all due respect, I have read several very short 1/2-page, and in my opinion, incomplete narratives that have been fully funded. Guess that was the right length for them.
    So what is the RIGHT length narrative and what is OVER-WRITING? Perhaps only the writer and reader can answer that.
    BB

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts