Finding Foundation Grants

shutterstock_84080833 smaller

Foundation grants are becoming an increasingly popular alternative for public safety agencies struggling to find federal and state funding. Here are a few tips and resources for finding and writing foundation grants.

  • Research foundations in your city, state, or region that give money for law enforcement or fire agencies.
  • Talk to those who have received funding in the past and pick their brains.
  • Read with extreme care the requirements concerning what will be funded and when the grant is due. Follow semantics. Remember that programmic grants are different from technology projects, even if they sound the same.
  • Watch the funding ceilings. If a grant specifies a ceiling of $15,000, DO NOT ask for $50,000.
  • Collect successful grants and use them as boilerplate modelsFoundations often send, on request, proposals from previously funded projects.
  • Find terms used in the application guidelines, and use them in your proposal. For example, if the grant specifies no research projects, do not use the word “research” in your grant. There are plenty of other words in the RFP guidelines to use.
  • Network with others who have worked with grant foundationsTalk to foundation personnel and ask for guidance. Subtle suggestions and hints you pick up from a phone conversation can make major differences in your proposal. The more personal contact you have with foundation personnel, the better.
  • Good proposals are easy to understand. Peer reviewers quickly scan text, particularly proposal abstracts or executive summaries, to get a quick overview of exactly what your project is, whom it is for, how it will be implemented, and what outcomes you are seeking. Be short and to the point, answer the questions, and your grant will be viewed as comprehensible and fundable.
  • Foundation grantors love catchy names that describe your project and make it memorable.
  • Present your ideas in a specific, professional, and entertaining manner. The abstract is the most important paragraph of your proposal, so lean toward a less formal voice. Let the grantor know exactly what you want to do with their money, and express it in well-designed simplicity.
  • A well-written proposal flows from one idea to the next. Maintain easy to understand sentences that build on one another.
  • Cite examples similar to your project, partner with the appropriate agencies, and write in your proposal small examples of similar projects. Mention that you know these projects were funded.
  • How will you keep your project going when the grant runs out? This is a question you must answer. No one wants to see a project they endorsed disappear. Be specific.
  • Your grant may not get funded for various reasons. Don’t be discouraged. Keep your grant on file and resubmit when another opportunity comes up. Persistence is the key!


Try these grant websites for further funding possibilities: The Foundation centerThe Chronicle of PhilanthropyThe National Science Foundation Grant SiteKathy Schrock’s Grant ListingCommunity Technology Funding Sources, and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.