AFG grant applications: To partner or not to partner

Here are three questions to ask as your department or agency works through the question of whether to partner or collaborate for an application


By Diane H. Leonard, GPC
GovGrantsHelp.com

FEMA's Assistance to Firefighter Grants (AFG) will be opening shortly. That isn't news to most fire departments or emergency service providers. I've been writing about information and data you should gather in advance of the application and other big picture grant readiness related items to address. I've also written about the value of partnership within grant applications as a broad topic and best practice for grant applications.

With AFG about to open, is there a right or best answer to our Shakespeare inspired conundrum: "To partner or not to partner … that is the question?" This dilemma is facing many fire departments that are considering whether to apply for an AFG grant as a single department or to partner with other regional organizations and apply for an AFG grant as a regional application.

They are asking themselves if it is best to apply for the SCBAs that their department desperately needs as they are past the NFPA compliance limit and therefore are considered a priority project, or if they should partner with multiple departments in their region to ensure full interoperability.

What factors should they take into consideration when making the choice to change from being a single department application to a regional application? Here are three questions to ask yourself as your department or agency works through the question of whether to partner or collaborate for an application such as the AFG funding.

1. What are your strengths as an organization from an application competitiveness perspective in a single department application?

  • Is the poverty level of the community you serve far worse than the state or regional poverty level?
  • Is your equipment the oldest of those departments surrounding you that you work with on automatic or mutual aid calls?
  • What advocates do you have in the process? Elected officials? Who will help champion your application during the process?

2. What are the strengths from an application competitiveness perspective of your potential collaborative partners?

  • Are their poverty rates higher than your community?
  • Is their equipment older than yours and/or the other departments that you work with on automatic or mutual aid calls?
  • Is there an elected official that they have a strong working relationship with that can help advocate for your application in the process?

3. Do you have a good working relationship with the department(s)?

  • Will the creation of a Memorandum of Understanding go smoothly?
  • Will each department participating in the collaborative application be able to provide their portion of the required match?

After your analysis, what is the answer that is best for your department's needs? To partner or not to partner?

About the author
Diane H. Leonard, GPC is an experienced and highly respected grant professional who has provided grant development counsel to nonprofit organizations of varying size and scope for more than a decade. Diane founded DH Leonard Consulting & Grant Writing Services, LLC based in Clayton, NY in 2006. Diane began her career in philanthropy as a Program Officer for the Michigan Women's Foundation, a statewide public foundation. Diane is an active member of the Grant Professionals Association and is proud to have earned her Grant Professional Certification, a credentialed certification conferred by the Grant Professional Credential Institute.

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