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Your grant success starter kit

Assistance is crucial for grant writers who may or may not be familiar with your EMS service, service area or special capabilities

With more than a dozen grant applications in my "holding for more information" file, I think it might be helpful to offer some tips about getting ready to apply for funding. Organizations seeking successful grant applications should consider completing some basic early-bird measures to fast-track their grant writing process.

First, ensure that the basic building blocks for presenting your company are set in place. Then, with a back pocket full of go-to documents — an organizational fact sheet, thank you letters from appreciative past users of your services, a few key photos and leaders' resumes — you can kick-start any grant application process.

Assistance is crucial for a grant writer who may or may not be familiar with your EMS service, service area or special capabilities. With the basics out of the way, your informed funding process may find its way to completion well ahead of those of others who aren't as well prepared.

Provide your grant writer with an organizational point of contact who is readily available to provide clarification or confirmation of up-to-date company facts.

Take the time to ensure your grant writer understands your company vision and strategic objectives for pursuing the grant and is familiar with the key personnel who will be carrying out the proposed project.

Your grant writer must be able to present your organization's vision and leadership as clearly and directly as you would if you were presenting in front of a local commission or board meeting.

Grant writers must often explain your organization and the general services your organization performs to a foundation or funding source who has limited knowledge about EMS. Funding organizations actually care about the basics: The type of business or organization applying, tax ID number, list of products/services, the number of years in operation, number of employees and volunteers, DUNS number, etc.

Help your grant writer associate actual faces of your organization with the funding of the grant. People do business with and fund the activities of people they like. So providing key personnel photos, bios and/or resumes can help. Photos and testimonials of end users are also helpful, especially when the experience is fresh so that the testimonial will be more emotional and sincere.

Your organization must also appear credible to grant reviewers who are likely to conduct their own research in determining whether your application is simply smoke and mirrors or a credible reflection of your organization's special brand of EMS and its needs. The Internet offers you tremendous opportunity to portray your company in keeping with the spirit of your grant application.

Analyze how your website and social media presence support or detract from the grant-writing effort. Determine what company image is projected through online news publications. Verify that your industry affiliations and credibility-building partnerships are documented on associations' websites and in business directories. It is always helpful to prepare a checklist and determine if you are missing any of the abovementioned building blocks.

Finally, consider if you have the measures in place to publicize your track record once your application is funded. Does your organization recognize grantors through public relations efforts? How do you demonstrate results after program funding?

Even though the PR efforts aren't usually required, the spirit of exchange often distinguishes your application in favor of others. So if you don't have the in-house skills required, identify a PR expert — volunteer or otherwise — to offer these gracious additions of recognizing and tracking results for your application. 

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