Campus Safety Grant Strategies: Your 1st Steps

Knowing what grantors won’t fund and conducting needs assessments will put your grant development plans on the right path.

Grants Supplement Existing Budgets
Most everyone initially asks “What can I obtain grants for?” Although this is a valid question, and one that many of us would think should be asked first, it is actually much easier to understand grants if you simply find out what they typically do not fund. The list of what is not included is much shorter.

A grant, by definition, is a formal agreement between a funding source (grantor) and the grantee (recipient of the award). The grantor agrees to supply money or equipment in exchange for the grantee performing certain acts or services in order to further the philanthropic-giving interests of the funding source. They are, by design, supplemental in nature. In other words grants are given to supplement your existing budget and not replace it. You can best think of a grant award as being a “hand-up,” not a “hand-out”.

Grant sources that fund public safety initiatives are much different than those that fund academic interests. Generally, sources do not like to fund items they consider to be capital assets. That is why you see very few programs willing to pay for what are known as “brick and mortar” projects or building grants.

There have been numerous cases in the past of a grant being used to fund a new building or to buy an expensive piece of equipment and then the agency falls on hard economic times and that item(s) is sold. Since real estate generally only appreciates with time, it is not difficult to understand that a funding source would be reluctant to help generate a tidy profit for someone they had helped with their generosity. The best way to eliminate that possibility from occurring is to eliminate its eligibility as an item that could be funded with a grant.

Need Weapons? Grants Won’t Help
The same can be said of things that have a relatively high resale value, such as expensive equipment or vehicles. That is because the equipment or money awarded to purchase that equipment imparts ownership of the property to the organization once the performance period (usually one year) has expired.

Grant funding sources also usually frown on applications for obtaining weapons of any type, even though they are a commonly associated tool in law enforcement activities.

Personnel and operating budgets are also items unlikely to be funded by most grant sources. This is associated with the above statement of grants being supplemental in nature and not taking the place of an existing, routine operating budget.

Grants are more likely to fund things that wear out after 10 years. They will also fund improvements in technology that make operations safer for the personnel or are likely to offer increased department efficiency. If the item delivers true cost benefit (bang for the buck), it most likely is an eligible item.

Need is determined by a combination of things that, when considered as a whole, clearly show a problem not only exists but there is also a distinct lack of financial resources with which to deal with the problem.

Most grants are given to fill a gap in services. When referring to campus safety issues, the grant application writer’s job is to not only identify and classify that risk but to also articulate it as either perceived or real in nature. It is therefore incumbent upon the grantee to conduct a proper risk assessment, and identify those risks and the available resources required to mitigate them. It is only by properly articulating that gap and the resources needed to bridge it that a funding source will offer to step up to the plate and assist.

These are some of the first steps that any successful grant writer must take in trying to establish a proper grant strategy for going after these types of initiatives. Future articles will deal with locating grant funding sources, developing the actual application and managing your grants properly.

Kurt Bradley is the senior consultant for First Responder Grants Inc.For more information, visit

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