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Foundation grants for EMS: Avoid these 4 common errors

Successful grants from foundations are obtained with persistence, hard work and dedication, not secrets


According to The Foundation Center, there is over $55 billion available each year from thousands of funding sources. When it comes to being awarded grants from foundations, many people believe that there is a secret writing tactic.

"It does not happen all at once. There is not instant pudding." — Edward Deming

There are no secrets. This isn't to say that writing a grant proposal doesn't require thought, persuasive writing skills and attention to detail.

As a grant writer you should be constantly honing your writing skills, focusing on your mission and researching prospective foundation funders just as we utilize continuing education to become better clinical providers.

Since there are no secrets, this is how you become a successful EMS grant writer. Establish a system for your success through practice. Like any process, some setbacks are a given, but the only failure is not even applying for a grant. As you apply for foundation grants, avoid these common errors:

1. Study
Study the foundation's giving history, if possible for the past three years. Note the range in award amounts is and adjust your proposal accordingly. Asking for more than the grant maker feels comfortable with or typically gives is a quick way to end up on the declined to fund pile.

2. Follow the instructions
Be meticulous when adhering to the foundation's application guidelines. If the instructions say 2000 character limit, they mean it. Not paying attention to the application details about character limites, font style and size, attachments and supporting documentation is the easiest way to be declined.

3. Online presence
Clean up, modernize or create a website and Facebook page for your department. In addition to your proposal, your agency's website is one of the first things a foundation will look at during the review process. A professional website enhances your application's credibility in the eyes of a grant maker. Make sure your Facebook page has photos of your personnel at their best serving the community, maintaining equipment and practicing their skills.

4. Get help
Ask a colleague to proofread your proposal. Having at least one other set of eyes look at your work only improves its readability. Sometimes you spend so much time writing, revising and building a proposal glaring errors get missed. Find an application reviewer that is a strong writer, has experience editing and doesn't know your department's needs well. Their outsider perspective will help ensure the application clearly communicates the department's needs to the foundation's application reviewers.

When it comes to foundation funding, the reality is sometimes the third time is the charm. Use each application to hone your system. Get better over time and recognize where you can improve. For example, it might be as simple as having a proofreader or spending more time researching potential funders. Submitting a proposal for funding always has a better chance of success than the proposal that never leaves your desk.

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