Guide to Understanding Grant Writing for Law Enforcement

grant file in directory

Law enforcement agencies across the country are struggling to expand or maintain their operations due to a lack of funding. While local police departments receive funding through a variety of revenue streams, such as public funds, fines and fees, private donations, and forfeitures, many departments continue to feel the limits of their operational budgets.

Fortunately, grants are available for cash-strapped local and state law enforcement agencies in need of additional funding. Grants can be used for a variety of purposes, such as new equipment, vehicles, funding, or additional personnel.

Grants can be defined as direct monetary assistance given to an organization to undertake a particular program or project. A grant may also be given to fund solutions identified within a community, such as extra police presence in high-crime areas.

Law enforcement agencies can find grants from private, state, and federal sources. However, there is much more to getting a grant than simply applying. Grant writing is a specialized process that requires extensive thought and effort to outshine the competition. Keep reading to learn more about grant writing for law enforcement and how to stand out.

Prepare for Grant Writing

grant fundingBefore putting pen to paper, it is important to prepare for grant writing. Start by identifying the current needs of the department and community. Consider how these areas would benefit from grant funding and what type of impact it will have in both the short and long term. Also, review what the repercussions will be on the department and community if the project or program is not funded.

To prepare for grant writing, a law enforcement agency must also obtain their D-U-N-S (data universal numbering system) confirmation or SAM (System for Award Management) registration if they have not already.

Next, identify all stakeholders, which may include individuals within organizations of the community that will be positively impacted by the grant. This could include population groups, churches, schools, mutual aid organizations, local municipalities, or public utilities.

Review Qualifications and Deadlines

Like any application, a grant application must be carefully reviewed and completed. Not all grants are open to the public or may be targeted at specific groups. Law enforcement agencies must ensure that they meet all qualifications, or they will not receive funding. A grant will also have an open date and deadline that applicants must adhere to. Start the process as early as possible to ensure that ample time can be dedicated to the writing process.

Determine the Structure of the Grant Proposal

Not all grant proposals are the same structure-wise. In some instances, a grant proposal will consist only of a single application form that allows the applicant to provide a general overview of why they need the grant.

Some applications will require a more detailed written proposal that answers a series of questions, such as how the grant money will “fix” the problem, the chances of success with the program or project, and if the agency requesting the funds is capable of managing the money.

A grant application may also require a cover letter or letter of transmittal which serves as an introduction to the grant proposal. As the cover letter is typically the first document read, it is important that it clearly identifies the proposal, introduces and sells the proposed plan or project, and includes a closing that contains the agency’s contact information.

Consider Hiring a Grant Writer

man writing grant applicationsIt is common for law enforcement agencies to hire outside help with crafting a successful grant proposal. The writing process can be tricky, and clearly stating what the department will do with the money and the importance of funding is best left to a professional with concise writing skills. Consider reaching out to a local grant writer or try to locate a community member who will assist on a pro bono basis.

Develop a Strong Case for Funding

Ample research is required to write a successful grant proposal. To develop a strong case for funding, consider adding current data, citations, research findings and the most up-to-date statistics. Performing research and including all key findings in the proposal demonstrates that the department understands what problems it faces and how best to resolve these issues by using grant funding to achieve goals.

Using CPI OpenFox to Write Grand-Winning Proposals

CPI OpenFox offers innovative information-sharing solutions to the law enforcement industry that can provide assistance during the grant-writing process. The OpenFox Product Suite by CPI OpenFox is a reliable and robust technology platform designed exclusively for secure law enforcement systems.

There are many OpenFox products that can prove invaluable when writing grant proposals, such as the Messenger Workstation, Criminal History Records Application tool, Sex Offender Registry, Internet Records Access Portal (iRap) and HotFiles 2.0. All OpenFox applications are available to law enforcement as a service or can be accessed via a mobile device. To get started with CPI OpenFox, schedule a consultation today.