3 steps to turn grant rejection into success
Minimizing the time to cement collaborative relationships means using inexpensive tools and maximizing the resources available
By Janet Smith
The fire department has a great idea for a project with both EMS and fire prevention/safety messages for high risk general public populations. However, the project just can’t happen without grant funding, since even the mony for a 5 percent match isn’t available.
This is the juncture where many fire department chiefs throw up their hands in frustration. Alone, it just seems too overwhelming to plan, communicate, act, find match funding and author for an on-time submission. But, by using collaboration as a funding strategy, fire and EMS can mutually benefit along with those they serve.
The benefits of working together
Politics aside, public safety professionals are really on the same team. There are definite advantages for blending the efforts of EMS and fire prevention for a grant funding success that benefits all the citizens served by both entities. By working together to support each other’s agencies, match funding in the form of cash or in-kind services can be mutually beneficial.
How refreshingly odd would it be for your EMS operation to offer in-kind services, or the 5 percent match as a goodwill gesture?. By so doing, EMS steps up to help satisfy the cost sharing requirement for the fire department’s application, in trade for the same kind of d assistance for an EMS related grant or community project in the future.
When an EMS agency collaborates as an in-kind contributor with a fire department for funding public safety and fire and/or burn prevention, the EMS agency rides the coattails of the most longstanding and institutionalized goodwill source of any American public service:fire suppression services.
Since there are far more medical emergencies occurring in a FD’s service area, fire departments that collaborate with EMS agencies’ projects benefit by the opportunity of more closely relating with the actual constituents they serve, i.e. seniors, parents, teens, children and elected officials/policy makers. Thus, the public’s trust is fostered and reinforced for both agencies when at least these two members of the public safety team collaborate on a project.
By collaborating, projects that seemed out of reach are made possible, more credible and more comprehensive. Scratching each other’s backs offers a win win that just wasn’t previously in the cards.
So how do you make this funding strategy work?
1. Prepare: Successful collaboration starts with a good working relationship between fire and EMS. It’s also important to carefully research every grant’s requirements for match funding, cost sharing and/or in-kind services. (See below for the 2014 Fire Prevention & Safety grant). It also takes some pre-planning to identify mutually beneficial projects based on funding opportunities. If your fire department already has a great fire prevention campaign idea, work together to discover how the project might be tweaked to offer an “in-kind’ opportunity for the EMS agency’s resources. For instance, instead of fully concentrating on a fire prevention message, allow the EMS agency to participate by offering burn first aid and/or education about burns and how they are treated; allow the EMS agency’s name to appear as a collaborator on any printed materials and press releases; and allow presentation time for the EMS agency’s representatives during public meetings or events.
2. Assign: If you’re trying to foster a quid pro quo or an “even-steven” collaboration philosophy, then divide the work. Break down the costs and determine the dollar value of in-kind services required to satisfy the application requirements. (These requirements are all different, depending on the grant, so research carefully). Work through the project variables so that partnering EMS and Fire agencies can always communicate a unified response for any contingency.
3. Write it down: The grant application process is a great place to get all the assignments, commitments and schedules for events, communications and presentations down on paper. There should be no misunderstanding about who is doing what.
4. Be accountable: Keep one another accountable for grant application and resulting campaign milestones. Set application information deadlines, meet regularly and do the work required for an on-time submission.
5. Communicate: Cross promote the project by presenting both fire and EMS key personnel resumes, testimonials for both agencies, joint press releases and letters of support for both entities.
6. Share success: Prepare to implement the visibility of your success by scheduling the in-kind deliverables well in advance. Then, keep your commitments.
There is still time to apply for the AFG Fire Prevention and Safety Grants. EMS GrantsHelp and Fire Grantshelp are prepared to help you.
Is there a cost share for fire departments?
Yes. All applicants, including fire departments, have a 5% cost share. FEMA generally administers cost sharing requirements in accordance with 44 C.F.R. § 13.24 for grants to state and local government entities, and with 2 C.F.R. § 215.23 for grants to institutions of higher education and other non-profit organizations. The Administrator of FEMA may waive or reduce Cost Share requirements in cases of demonstrated economic hardship.
The grantee is not required to have the cost-share at the time of application, nor at the time of award. However, before a grant is awarded, FEMA will contact potential awardees to determine whether the grantee has the funding in hand or if the grantee has a viable plan to obtain the funding necessary to fulfill the cost sharing requirement.
All grantees should ensure that they are thoroughly familiar with FEMA’s administration of cost sharing requirements identified herein, as well as in appropriate cost principles in Title 2 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 225 and 230, and the AFG FAQs available at www.fema.gov/frequently-asked-questions-0.
Types of Contributions
- Cost share match (cash or hard match), including non-federal cash spent for project-related costs.
- In-Kind (soft; other than cash payments) cost share matches are allowable for FP&S Grants. Such matches include, but are not limited to, the valuation of in-kind services, complementary activities, provision of staff, facilities, services, material or equipment. In-kind is the value of something received or provided that does not have a cost associated with it. For example, where an in-kind match is permitted, then the value of donated services could be used to comply with the match requirement. Also, third party in-kind contributions may count toward satisfying match requirements, provided the grantee receiving the contributions expends them as allowable costs in compliance with provisions listed above.