Grant Writing Advice and Tips: The Grant Helpers Blog

Grants for Disaster Preparedness

Posted by Vickie Garton-Gundling on Thu, Mar 8, 2018 @ 09:03 AM

In 2017, there were many devastating natural and other disasters around the world. In the wake of such harrowing events, response organizations tend to focus on disaster relief and recovery. But governmental and community disaster prevention and preparedness programs are equally important, as they have broad reach and proactively help save lives, reduce injury rates, and reduce property and environmental damage when disaster strikes.Disaster Prep.jpg There are many grant opportunities for those organizations who focus on disaster prevention and preparedness in addition to disaster relief and recovery.

Before you review and consider applying to the specific disaster preparedness grant opportunities listed below, here’s a quick reminder of some important, general preparatory actions your organization should take before applying for any grant.

Build a Relationship with the Grantmaker:
Many grants require your organization to work with someone at the grant funding entity in order to apply for a grant. Be sure to research if the grant opportunity you’ll apply to has such a requirement. Even when a particular grant does not require connecting with the grantmaker ahead of time, building a rapport with the funder and seeking their input on your project ideas in advance will increase your chance of funding.

Establish Project Partnerships: Many grants require or encourage partnerships with one or more organizations outside your own. It is best to secure collaborators before you begin or early in the project planning process so the partnering institution(s) can provide project planning input. 

Plan the Project: The vast majority of grant opportunities fund specific projects, not general operating costs.  This statement is especially true for disaster preparedness grant opportunities. Be prepared to present data justifying the need for the project, a detailed project description, a project budget, and specific goals and measurable outcomes.

Here are some specific disaster preparedness opportunities to consider, as well as several relationship building, partnership establishment, and/or project planning tips:

FEMA Disaster Preparedness: Hazard Mitigation, Fire Prevention, and Flood Prevention Grant Programs

FEMA offers a variety of grants to help state, local, tribal, and territorial governments fund and sustain programs to help prevent or prepare for a variety of potential safety, health, and security hazards. Under their Hazard Mitigation Grants category, FEMA offers general grants for post-disaster preparedness projects for annual prevention programs and future prevention and planning programs post-disaster. In addition to general Hazard Mitigation programs, FEMA also offers more disaster-specific programs, such as their Firefighters Grant Program intended to enhance firefighting personnel and fire prevention programs or their Flood Mitigation Assistance Program for initiatives that help prevent flooding and flood damage in flood-prone areas. For the grant award amounts and application cycle information for the grant in which you’re interested in applying, see the website above.

  Project Planning Tip: To help prepare a specific, detailed project plan that will appeal to the FEMA grant application reviewers, first review FEMA's "Mitigation Ideas" documents for examples of the specific types of programs FEMA typically funds. Be sure your own program is similarly specific but also includes a new or innovative aspect beyond what is included in FEMA’s sample project ideas.  


Hospital Preparedness Program

While most of us think of natural disasters when we hear the phrases “disaster prevention” or “disaster preparedness,” it is also important to prepare for potential healthcare crises, including possible disease outbreaks or healthcare resource and supply shortages. In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control awarded over $850 million to state, city, special district, and county governments for initiatives to help build and sustain public healthcare preparedness programs. Grant award amounts range from $300,000 to $42 million. Applications are typically due in April or May.

  Project Planning Tip: This grant requires that the project increase health gains for at-risk individuals or special needs populations. So, be sure to review the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act (PAHPRA) to confirm which populations this grant program considers “at-risk,” choose a specific special needs population to target for your project, and research the current number of individuals your hospital currently assists within that population, to what extent, etc.  

  Partnership Establishment Tip: Based on your specific project focus, consider partnering with a local health-focused organization or even another healthcare provider toward reaching your project goals.  

State Farm Good Neighbor Citizenship® Company Grants

Under their Safety Grants category, State Farm offers grants for auto accident prevention, home safety initiatives, fire prevention education, and other disaster-preparedness programs. Eligible applicant organizations for Safety Grants include educational institutions, non-profits, governmental entities, and some community organizations, such as fire companies. Grant applications are typically available starting in early September, with deadlines at the end of October.

  Relationship Building Tip: Contact your local State Farm Agency. While awarding decisions for this grant are made at the national level within the company, working with your local State Farm representatives can help you gather data on the largest needs in your community and thus help you focus your proposed project. More importantly, showing on your application that you’ve built a relationship with State Farm at the local level will appeal to the national funding decision-makers.


Need funding for your disaster prevention and preparedness program? The Grant Helpers can help! Contact us today for a free consultation to get started.

 Photo Credit: US Army Africa


Topics: disaster preparedness grants, grants for disaster planning, natural disaster, grants for disaster preparedness, disaster, disaster prevention grants, developing fundable projects

5 Overlooked Grant Basics Part I: Planning a Fundable Project

Posted by Roland Garton on Thu, Oct 19, 2017 @ 17:10 PM

This blog begins a series of five blogs that address basic aspects of successful proposals that are often overlooked. To start, I’d like to addresst the notion that writing is the primary ingredient 33715849376_5c832c8a3e_m.jpgin a successful proposal. Not that writing quality is unimportant—poor writing can sink a great idea—but it is even more crucial for the proposed project itself to appeal to the funder. Creating a compelling proposal is not a writing task as much as it is a programming and planning task.

  Proposal Development requires more Planning and Research than writing.  

Notice that I avoid using the term “grant writing.” Our role as Grant Helpers, in addition to finding potential funding sources, is to guide and assist grant seekers’ planning and research. Though we do write a lot of solid text, we do so after helping organizations generate ideas and projects worth writing about.  Below are three main areas to work on in developing an exciting project plan.

1) Develop projects that funders want. You are no doubt aware of what your organization wants and needs. But actually securing grants is primarily about what the funding organization wants. One of the most common complaints among grant reviewers is getting proposals that don’t fit their funding priorities.

  Overlooked Basic: Propose something the funder wants to fund.  

As fundamental as this concept seems, you must propose something the funder wants to fund, something that furthers their goals. Usually, this is a specific project. General operating costs are not popular funding items. It takes time and effort to create a plan and its associated budget. No quality of prose can replace the planning required to develop a solid plan. The weak vs. strong comparison below is exaggerated, but not as much as one might think:

  • Weak plan: We do a lot of good things, so please give us money.
  • Stronger plan: We want to leverage our proven impact with a specific initiative that will accomplish X and Y.

2) Build specific programs for funding. The best time to position your organization for funding is early in your organization’s program planning cycle. It’s easier to revise activities before they are underway.  Your project must include specific steps and outcomes happening at specific times. Here some examples of ways to build specific programs for funding.

  • Food bank: Add a nutritional/informational component along with the food you hand out. Food bank funders increasingly want projects that promote better health overall, not just fill empty stomachs.
  • Park District facility: Propose a youth fitness program for a new facility or expansion. A targeted program is more likely to align with funders’ goals than a general facility. Reaching out to at-risk populations can further increase your project’s appeal to funders.
  • Public garden: Add an outreach component for aging citizens, and partner with local senior centers. You may attract funds from age-related organizations as well as gardening groups.

Two related notes here. First, in order to plan ahead for grant funding, you must be aware of what’s being funded, which is a research project itself. The Grant Helpers can expedite your research and help position you and your projects for higher-probability funding. Second, the shifts you make in your program must serve your mission. It is unwise to chase money in areas outside your purview just because the money is there.

3) Think through the details. The more you can present a feasible, well-considered plan, the stronger your proposal will be. If you don’t have time to plan a project, spending time on a proposal is probably not a good time investment. We’ve seen many initial drafts of grants that ask for money to plan a project. These will not rise to the top of the reviewer’s stack when compared with others spelling out more clearly what the funder will be supporting.

In the coming months, we’ll present more overlooked grant basics.  All of them deal with areas typically not considered strict “writing” tasks.  Here’s what we plan for this series:

#1: Planning a Fundable Project

#2: Justifying Your Grant Request with Hard Data

#3: Demonstrating Value and Impact

#4: Developing Good Collaborators

#5: Proposal Value Beyond Grant Dollars


Photo Credit: GotCredit

Topics: overlooked grant basics, fundable project, grant planning, grant research tips, grant project development, developing fundable projects, securing grants, Grant Writing Tips, Grant Writing and Planning, How to Grant Write, best practices in grant writing, grant writing, grant writing help