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Keeping up with grant 'trend-setters'

By Janet Smith

When I interviewed an EMS1 GrantsHelp client about his department’s need for a training simulator he said, “I would really like the simulator but if there is money out there to be had, I really need it for operating expenses.” I hear him.

Wouldn’t it make so much more sense for 24/7 EMS operations to have the flexibility to use funds as needed rather than having all the funding eggs locked in one basket. Since 1980, grant and foundation funding followed trends much like any other market force follows trends. It’s easier to track and brag about short term successes than it is to take measurable credit for the smooth sailing of an overall operation. And, because the majority of current foundations’ leadership comes from the management by objective business culture, funding has been tied to the documented success of a particular project or goal rather than keeping the whole business ship afloat.

Although momentum has been slow, my grant funding wind sock is starting to point another direction. Since 2006, marketing forces in the business world demand that businesses and non-profits (just like those aligned with EMS) prove their existing computer and education infrastructures are scalable and robust enough to assimilate any wish list new technologies and education programs that have been earmarked for funding. As a result, the wind is blowing favorably on more grants and foundation awards for not-for-profits’ general operating support.

Grant writing guru, Pamela Grow, reports that in 2004, the Independent Sector Board of Directors unanimously endorsed a statement to “opt for general operating support over project support when feasible and when the goals of the two organizations are substantially aligned.” Further, they encouraged foundations, when providing project support, to pay “the fair proportion of administrative and fundraising costs necessary to manage and sustain whatever is required by the organization to run that particular project.” Additionally, the Center for Effective Philanthropy recommended that foundations “should make larger, longer-term operating grants” supporting a company’s mission, not just one piece of equipment or training program.

All of us whom work to fund EMS’s overall operating expenses must be on the alert to find new funding trend setters. Look for foundations and grant funders who see the success in funding not only specific EMS aims, but high quality and effective organizations. Regularly check Nozasearch, regional grant making associations and the site www.fundsnetservices.com to identify the best funding fit for your organization and its specific needs.

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