Thread: Writing Grants

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    Red face Writing Grants

    Just a Pole I was thinking about....Who is writing your grants for your department? I have heard some people write there own, while others pay grant writers to do this. I have wrote two grants now for two FEMA grants for two different fire departments I am on. Both times they have been awarded. First one was for ppe, and this year was for a Pumper/Tanker... Just wanting to know how many people write the own grants or pay to have it done.

    Thanks Nebo

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    Write our own grants... sometimes with pro-bono assistance

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    I have written grants for my department since 2000. We have at least 4 grabts a year we try for.(AFG, and three locals) Have hit 80% of them since I started. Not sure if there is a value to paying to have it written. You know your own department better than anyone you would pay to write the request for you.

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    write our own. successful in obtaining PA grants. 1st time this year for AFG.

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    Thumbs up :)

    We write our own, can't really aford to have someone else do it for us. I have gotten a TON of great help and guidance off this forum!! Most of the time all you have to do is ask and it comes in by the truckload. Also it helps to have a little bit of know how. But if you don't then there are great people that do it here for a living that can help you out!!

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    I wrote our grant with a little help from diffrent people to get me started. We haven't got the 10 questions or 1199a yet. This is my first time to write a grant.

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    I wrote our first grant attempt this time. We were successful to the tune of $232,036 federal share for a tanker. I sent my narrative to lots of folks to proof read - especially those outside of the fire service. If people that have no experience in the fire service could understand our need and the cost-benefit of our project, I hoped the peer panel would too.

    I do think that as this grant program progresses, it is going to become more and more difficult to be awarded. It seems that every year the funding goes down a little and the number of applicants goes up. It is very important that your application and narrative be airtight. For that reason, I think it wouldn't be a bad idea for first time writers and folks that have been DJ'd multiple times to at least attend a grant writing workshop. I know I will before next year's application period begins.

    My $.02.

    H

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    Default Grant writing

    I write the grants for our department, thre FIRE grants so far, 2005 still waiting, 2004 no go for an engine, 2003 got it for PPE, radios and hose.

    Also did a DCNR for extrications suits and forestry equip. Two written for State Fire Commissioner Office grants. Depending on the outcome of 2005 FIRE grant, I may seek some additional input or expertise. Depends on if we made through computer scoring and denied based on narrative or eliminated due to computer scoring.

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    Man, I'm trying to make this a full-time deal and y'all are trying to get rid of me already?!

    Just kidding. Just some input from someone that's been around the block many times here: don't think you've got a death grip on this game after a grant or two. I've got a few hundred and I sure don't think I do. Just like anything else the instant you think you've got nothing else to learn, you've already closed your mind and won't learn anything new. I'm going to be teaching grant writing seminars over the next few months, and a few people think I'm nuts for wanting to go to some also. But just like any other training or education, you never know when or where you'll pick up that one extra piece of knowledge that could make the difference. The reason you can't rest on laurels is that this is one of the most dynamic grant programs available ever. So while the priorities and other main details may not change very much from year to year, the competition does. Obviously the award winners will change their projects, and nearly everyone that was denied will too. So next year is an entirely different game. Same reason that you don't want to base your next project off of someone else's, let alone use their narrative. Just like teachers can tell when you borrowed someone else's homework, it's very easy to tell when reading an application what parts were borrowed and what parts were the writer's own. The style and language of the sentences change. Minor detail, but in a game of fractions...

    And by no means am I saying you can't do it by yourself, far from it. It is very possible to do it on your own, just don't do it in a vacuum. One of my favorite quotes that I used in one article already is: You can't think outside of the box if you're in it. All of the peer reviewers are outside of your box, and many people have been shot down because what they were proposing made no sense for the situation they were describing as a problem. As txfirechick said, go outside of the fire service if you need to. If you can convince people that have no idea what it is we do (which is dang near the entire U.S.), then you've got a good argument put together.

    And if you do end up thinking about hiring someone, check them out first. The telltale sign to keep looking is for someone to tell you they can get you XX without even asking all of the questions. You'll know when you're being sold a lemon.

    If I didn't say it before anywhere, I apologize for not giving out application advice or reviews for free the past 2 years like I did prior to that. But until this is a full-time undertaking, there is no way I could have fulfilled the nearly 1,000 requests that I had for help last year and still had hair and a job. Hopefully that will be changing shortly.

    Good luck to those still waiting, congrats to those buying new toys.

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    A group of us from the fire station write our own grants. In 2002 we applied for a rescue / pumper denied. In 2003 we applied for a rescue / pumper changed the narrative and was approved for $216,000. In 2004 we applied for new scba's and a breathing air compressor approved for $43,958. In 2005 we were approved for PPE head to toe, washer / extractor and a turnout gear drying cabinet in the amount of $37,054. With out this program we would have not been able to afford none of this on our own.

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    We do our own at my dept. We hadn't any sucess the first 2 years, but last year I nailed a small forestry grant (our first grant in 23 years as a department), then, just a couple of months later I recieved notice that we were awarded AFG 04 (121k FF Safety and Ops). And here we are this year with AFG for a new tanker-pumper. THANK GOD!!! I would at least recommend gleaning some of the info shared on this forum if you can't afford a professional as in our case. What I think is important is to just be honest and don't abuse this program.

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    Default Grant Writing

    I write the grants now in our department - but I have to say that a strong part of my professional experience is as a grant writer although this has not been the primary focus of any of my jobs. (I am also a probie in the fire department.)

    In the past, I spent 10 years at a university, three years in a school district and now independent consultants and write grants as part of my work over the past 15 years - now that being said - in the past 10 years - my success rate is very high - and been awarded over a $1 million - but the projects have been all over the place - federal highway funding, epa, department of education, public broadcasting, national park service.

    This is my first round of fire service grant writing - and still no questions from AFG (we got a forestry grant) - I think we put together a good grant for port. pumps - but that might be our problem. I also know that we will not be an early grantee - I will be happy to be in the middle of the pack.

    I am interested to see what happened with our SAFER grant - I really shot the moon on that grant - normally I go for good solid grants (like hitting consistant doubles - no home runs) so it is interesting.

    In my experience, I have never charged to write grants - my department paid for paid grant writer in the past - and ended up in court with him. This of course hurts all grant writers.

    I think departments should either make sure the grant writers are really good and experts (there are three that I can think of on this forum) or use people in house or work with some people who can work pro bono with the thought that if the grant is awarded - they will have a leg up on getting the work. (This last way is how I work professionally as a consultant.)

    The grant is not really hard to do in my opinion - it is a matter of telling a good story - your story of the fire department - and tell some of the problems and how you can solve the problems with support.

    Any how, thanks to all those on this forum and are sharing, I wish my other projects in life had such a supportive group. Also great thanks to those of you who are so giving to this forum - you guys and ladies are great!!!!

    S. Kelleher
    QSFD

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    Quote Originally Posted by eng645
    A group of us from the fire station write our own grants. In 2002 we applied for a rescue / pumper denied. In 2003 we applied for a rescue / pumper changed the narrative and was approved for $216,000. In 2004 we applied for new scba's and a breathing air compressor approved for $43,958. In 2005 we were approved for PPE head to toe, washer / extractor and a turnout gear drying cabinet in the amount of $37,054. With out this program we would have not been able to afford none of this on our own.
    Our 2005 FIRE grant request was for SCBA, fill station/compressor, gear washer, AEDs, RIT equipment. I would be interested in talking with you more about your app and see if our departments parallel each other.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 298lieut
    Our 2005 FIRE grant request was for SCBA, fill station/compressor, gear washer, AEDs, RIT equipment. I would be interested in talking with you more about your app and see if our departments parallel each other.
    Don't make too close of a comparison. Notice they went for SCBA separate from PPE. Sometimes trying to solve multiple problems at once is the downfall. Not saying you're going to be denied, but lots of folks were denied for packages in one year, cut it down to one program in the next and were funded.

    Also be careful about asking for smaller cost items. If you can buy 20 of something that you're applying for, for less than what your matching is on the entire application, you might be in trouble. For instance, you're applying for PPE, total project $100K. Let's say matching 10%, so your part will be $10K. You spend time in your narrative talking about how everyone has holes in their gloves and how unsafe it is. Gloves cost between $60 and $100, so for the whole dept, it would cost around $2,000 to buy all new gloves. You have $10K, you need to spend only $2K to fulfill what you said was unsafe, why didn't you buy gloves already and only apply for coats and pants? These are the 'outside the box' things you need to take into consideration. This is also the advantage of using someone outside of the department/geographic area. And also why quaker49 does well, it's a consultant mindset, and I've done my time serving that sentence also. Consultants enter a situation as an outsider, which is how we can look objectively at any situation, including our own department.

    It's all in the mind, a fig newton of your imagination...

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    For those who can't afford to hire a grant writer -- have you looked into Fire Corps? Maybe there's someone out there in your area that would like to donate time, but can't commit to be a firefighter/EMT.

    http://www.firecorps.org/

    Or, maybe your local college/university could offer assistance. Some students need internships/papers as part of their programs.
    Last edited by DianeC; 08-22-2005 at 10:08 AM.
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    I have written the grant app's for my Department since the FIRE Act was established. Unsuccessfull first year, but have been successfull every year since then, including this year. We got our official award notice last Friday.

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    We do our grant preparation and writing in house. Also, we enlist a member of the community, such as a teacher, to proof the narrative and get their opinion on whether our needs were put across in writing. Batting 500 so far. (won 2, lost 2)

    Department profile; rural, 3 career, 26 volunteers, tax base supported (5 3/4 cent) 600 runs with auto aid, 3400 population in district.

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    I wrote the grant for our department this year, first attempt, and successful. Previous grants written for our department were substandard, and none of them were awarded. The atta-boys I am getting for this year's award will surely soon turn into "what else can you get for us?" within a couple of weeks, now that I have the job for good.
    You only have to be stupid once to be dead permanently
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    at least you got an atta boy... I got 1 thanks .

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    Well, I guess many are wondering when I would throw my hat in the ring, so here goes.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with paying a grant writer/consultant to assist you. Grant writing, and grant devlopment, is a "time consuming" process, which many of you do not have the luxury of. Proper grant strategy for a department entails a constant level of activity to keep up with statistical data , demographics, proper needs assessment, long and short range planning. If you are consistent with keeping up with these things in your department, then the process is not nearly so arduous but; most of us are ,or were ( me included), "adrenaline junkies" and subject to "answering the bell" when it rings. Your service to the public comes first, before anything else and sometimes that creates a conflict.

    That being said, I have been on all sides of this equation and it is a polygon, not a triangle. Many things can alter your need for help. I have done this for my own departments as an adminstrator in need, I have done it for fee, now I do it for free ( well, somebody else pays me ,but not the departments).

    If you have to hire a grant writer the very first thing you should be asking the writer is "how many grants have you written for this particular program" you are applying to? But wait now; there are 2 other questions they should answer as well. Those are:

    How many of those applications did you get funded?

    Will you provide me with some phone numbers to check your references?

    Remember that anyone can write a successful application and call themselves a grant wirter and hang out a shingle but, I would not want a social services programs grant writer doing my $225,000.00 pumper application ( no offense to you non-profit writers lurking here as I have done both). Do they understand the problem? Have they walked in your moccassins?

    Many of you have brought up very, very valid points here. Education, experience, time available etc. are all things to be considered here. bc79er makes an intereting and extremley valid point. None of us ,and I think I can speak for dixiechicknc as well, ican ignore the existence of the need for us to always continually seek education in this business. Sure I teach grant writing seminars but, I also attend ( as a student) almost 6-7 seminars a year. You cannot rest on your laurels here folks. Times change, program priorities change, thinking processes change and these are all things that I want to know about. If we didn't do it, do you think Brian, Alana or myself could be as successful as we are? Of course not.

    I know that even I learn from being in this forum and I am quite thankful that it exists. You can never know it all and the first person that tells you that they do, is when you should run like hell in the other direction.
    Kurt Bradley
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    " Never Trade Skill for Luck"

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