Finding and creating the right markets for your grants
Don't fall victim to the "Achilles hill" of grants by applying for grant for a solution or market that doesn't need it or exist
By Janet Smith
The Achilles heel for any grant application is when you pitch your cool idea, new gadget or program where a market doesn’t exist for its use, like a football bat for example.
Sorry for the over simplification, but unfortunately there are a number of grant applications that cross my desk that look like EMS agencies are looking to offer a solution where a problem doesn’t exist or will only impact a few people i.e., travel funding, custom-fitted uniforms, etc.
A grant’s resulting product or service should fill an already established need.
So, if you are seeking grant funding, make sure that by funding your “ask” you will solve is an already established and well documented problem or will address a new but well founded cause.
And, the more people impacted by your grant funding, the better.
The most successful grant applications ask for monies that have been already earmarked for the cause you seek funding for, i.e., education, equipment, scholarships to conferences & trade shows, etc.
- Government grants typically like to fund initiatives that are scalable for the benefit of others, i.e., new service initiatives, community education programs, public safety programs, and equipment funding for agencies’ personnel so they can carry out their lifesaving mission.
- EMS/Fire/Police trade associations typically fund scholarships for attendance at their regular conferences or special events. There are EMS award programs that also gift awardees with equipment and/or monies/scholarships.
- Nationally branded companies like State Farm, Target, Firehouse Subs, etc. look for opportunities to generate goodwill for their own company and its local branches through highly visible grant funding and overall documentation that monies given result in lives saved, property saved, increased public safety was realized, etc. These companies want to share the credit for results in visible and tangible fashion, i.e., formal recognition, press opportunities, plaques in public buildings, news stories, etc.
- Individual philanthropists and their foundations grant for very specific reasons. So, if you can find a private foundation that funds EMS make sure you tailor your "ask" to produce very specific results for that grantor’s particular interest. These grant sources are often the most difficult to approach and then receive monies from since the funding is usually tied to a very specific recipient, i.e., a zoo, a park, a library, etc.
Before you even begin to consider a grant as a funding source, it is beneficial to do research to find out which government agencies, foundations or sources of funding are available, and which sources are most likely to want to solve the same issue you are interested in solving.
If you are able to find evidence that projects similar to the project that you’re considering delivered on its promised result, find out which grantors funded those projects (I.e., AED purchasing, specialized training courses, community relations projects, etc.), then locate that same type of grantor(s) for your application.