This step-by-step guide will help you plan, prepare and apply for grant funding to support your EMS organization
Sponsored by Pulsara
By EMS1 BrandFocus Staff
Many public safety organizations find themselves with tight budgets, asked to do more with less – especially with declining tax revenues and increased calls for service during the pandemic. Grant funding is a good way to supplement your annual budget, and there are plenty of resources, whether public (state, federal and local) or private (foundations, corporations, etc.).
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides aid via grant funding for first responders and healthcare professionals. Check out these 10 best practices for success when searching for and applying for grant funds. (Getty)
The coronavirus pandemic significantly challenged and strained our nation’s healthcare system, including EMS agencies from coast to coast. Lawmakers have enacted legislation providing about $5.3 trillion to help mitigate the economic burden. In particular, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides aid to help first responders and healthcare professionals.
If you are just beginning your search for grant funding or are familiar with grants but unsure of how to prepare an application, here are 10 best practices for success when searching for and applying for grant funds:
1. GET STARTED NOW
Even if you don’t have a target grant in mind yet, start planning and preparing now. Do your research and establish who will be responsible for gathering information, preparing the application and reporting should you win the grant.
2. ASSEMBLE YOUR GRANT TEAM
To avoid potential delays, missed deadlines and misallocation of resources, identify key stakeholders early on. These individuals will play essential roles in researching grants, collecting data and completing and submitting your agency’s applications:
3. FORMULATE A STRATEGIC PLAN
Planning is key to the success of any grant application. Start by identifying the need within your agency or the community you serve, then come up with measurable goals and steps to address it, as well as the products and services that will help you achieve those goals.
Your strategic plan can be a formal or informal process. A formal process includes multiple stakeholders closely examining data and constructing a formal document outlining the plan. Your city, county or agency may already have a formal strategic plan in place that you can draw on to draft this document. An informal process may consist of having stakeholders identify a list of needs for the upcoming year.
4. GATHER DATA
To support the goals and objectives outlined in your strategic plan, you’ll need quantitative and qualitative data that validates your organization’s need for funding. This information includes but is not limited to:
This information will help you focus your searches on grant opportunities that best address the needs of your community or organization.
5. DESIGNATE YOUR AGENCY’S POINT PERSON (AOR)
Most grant programs require approval from the applying agency’s Authorized Official Representative in order to submit and receive awards. The AOR is the individual with legal authority to sign grant documents, enter into contracts and execute documents. This can be the city manager, the fire chief or EMS medical director, county judge or others.
If the grant cycle is already open, as in the case of the American Rescue Plan, seek approval immediately from your agency’s or organization’s leadership. If you have planned ahead and determined other potential grant programs to apply to for the year, plan to seek approval within one to two months of the application period’s start date.
6. MAKE SURE YOUR AGENCY HAS ALL REQUIRED REGISTRATIONS IN PLACE
Applying for grants comes with a lot of administrative requirements, such as an up-to-date System for Award Management (SAM.gov) registration or some other form of registration your agency will need before being applying.
Any entity receiving federal funding must have an active SAM registration. Many states will have their own registration requirements as well. If these requirements are not complete at the time of application, you will not be allowed to apply.
Below is a list of common registrations required to submit grant applications, including common federal application portals and administrative requirements with important links:
DUNS – Data Universal Numbering System
SAM.gov – System for Award Management
FEMA Portal (FEMA GO)
Unique State Agency Portals
7. DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Once you have determined the needs of your agency, drafted your strategic plan and identified your AOR, the next step is to begin your search for potential grant programs. The project your organization establishes will help determine what grant programs are the most relevant. Here are a few resources to help you find the right grants opportunity for your needs:
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when performing your search:
Once you find your target opportunities, be sure to sign up for email notifications, check the websites regularly and reach out to the programs’ points of contact if you need more information. Double-check the opening dates, deadlines, eligibility requirements and deliverables to avoid missed opportunities.
8. VERIFY YOUR ELIGIBILITY
When you find a grant program that aligns with your project’s scope, it is important to ensure that your organization is eligible to apply. Often, eligibility is restricted by type of organization or geographic location. For instance, are those entities eligible to apply only extended to nonprofit organizations? If so, partnering with a nonprofit will be beneficial.
Be sure to review reporting requirements for each grant you apply for. These reports are due after the award is accepted and intended to ensure that the award will cover the cost of the project. If the award won’t cover the whole amount, you should develop a plan to fund the remainder of your project’s cost.
9. DEVELOP YOUR INVESTMENT JUSTIFICATION STATEMENT
Using key information, such as data and financial summaries taken from your strategic plan, the investment justification should explain the extent of the problem you aim to address and how the project to be implemented will meet your needs. This is the heart of your application.
When developing your investment justification, it is important to consider whether you are applying to an equipment or programmatic grant program:
Download a free funding guide from Pulsara to learn more about COVID-19 relief funding opportunities for EMS. (Pulsara)
Navigating the labyrinth of resources and requirements in an effort to secure funding for your organization can be tricky. Vendors can provide helpful information on which of their products and services may be eligible for grant funding and how. For example, Pulsara provides a free funding guide with details about current funding opportunities and tips for success. They’ll also partner with you to help you write a compelling case for the funding you seek.
10. SUBMIT AND TRACK YOUR APPLICATION
The lion’s share of the work occurs before a grant cycle even opens. By planning ahead, you’ll be prepared to pounce as soon as the opportunity opens and quickly gather the required documents and signatures to assemble the application components.
Once you submit your application, be sure to check the application portal regularly for additional requests from the grant maker for information/documentation. Depending on the grantor, award notifications are typically made four to six months after the application is submitted.
Visit Pulsara for more information, to download a free guide to funding and connect with their team members who can help guide you through the application process.