9 keys for police to secure private-sector funding

The more you understand about private foundations, the more successful you will be in obtaining the resources you need for your department

Law enforcement funding comes primarily from federal and state resources. Private philanthropy usually requires a non-profit status/ 501(c)3. Government is not eligible under this designation. 

There are some funding resources available from the private sector for law enforcement but careful research and planning is required to locate and access this funding stream. 

There are more than 88,000 private foundations in the United States. Much research is required and the better you know and understand the private funder, their mission, scope of funding and required partnerships, the more likely you will be funded.

1. Begin by getting ready. Create your “case statement for funding” such that once you have created your case statement, you can then begin to search for a foundation which may assist you with your grant project. 

2. Completing a proper and full search. For a private grant, it is your primary task to identify the right prospect for the purpose your law enforcement organization has in mind. Foundations may not be able to fulfill all of your organizational needs but can play a major role as a partner in helping your organization accomplish its goals. Never make the mistake of limiting your search for the “perfect” funder. But approach your search with the basic criteria which meet your needs and an open mind for selecting several candidates for consideration. 

Match your mission with the grant maker’s mission. You must also consider what type of support you are seeking. There are three basic research strategies that you can use to define and identify a funder. You can divide your search into subject matter, geographic approach and type of support. The Foundation Directory allows the grant seeker to search by any of these categories. Their cooperating libraries will also have dozens of other directories and guides for finding funding available at their grant research center. You might want to try the following categories for your search: law enforcement, law enforcement equipment, substance abuse, domestic abuse, juvenile justice, gangs, etc. The Directory provides a list of all searchable topics.

3. Find the right funder: For law enforcement it is best to begin your search for funding with corporate foundations. Corporations set aside and invest a portion of their profits to provide finding which is in the best interest of those corporations. Other corporate foundations may exist within your own community. That research needs to be completed based on the company location (where you live). 

Your local Chamber of Commerce may be able to assist your department in identifying funding in your jurisdiction. Your local bank president may also be of help in identifying local funding resources. Many corporate foundations give grant funding to law enforcement, security, and public safety programs. The following foundations make grants on a national level. For example: 

•    Allstate Foundation provides grants for programs that seek to end youth violence, empower domestic violence victims, target hate crimes, and teach tolerance to youth
•    K9 Working Dogs International, LLC offers a K9 LEAP Grant Program that will provide funding toward the purchase of a K9 for law enforcement agencies
•    Met Life Community Police Initiative recognizes exemplary collaboration between community groups and police that yield significant public safety outcomes
•    Ms. Foundation seeks to support building the movement to end child sexual abuse
•    National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA) has Special Program Assistance for Needed Tactical Officer Assets (SPANTOA) for SWAT Teams throughout the United States. The program is designed to provide important lifesaving equipment to SWAT/tactical teams that may otherwise not be able to obtain this equipment
•    State Farm Insurance Company provides grant funding for safety, community development, and education
•    Wal-Mart Community Grants Program provides funding to government agencies to provide public services within the community

Creative thinking is required to find money for LEOs within the private foundation world. Let’s brainstorm for a moment. 

•    For canines, search the corporate foundations that make dog food
•    For traffic tools and equipment, search the corporate insurance foundations
•    For drug demand reduction, search pharmaceutical corporate foundations and foundations with priority funding for youth, schools, drug demand reduction service providers
•    For law enforcement health and fitness, search the corporate foundations that produce sports equipment, power bars, sneakers, etc. 

Hopefully this is developing some additional ideas for you. Step out of your normal thinking and into the creative brainstorming process of imagining who might have money related to your needs.

4. Identify the required method of first contact. This may be a phone call, a letter of inquiry, online application or full proposal. The funder’s profile will define that approach to the private funder and then they will then get back to you with either approval to move forward or a letter which indicates that your project does not fit within their guidelines.

5. Prepare for a site visit. The private funder may want to visit your department to learn more about the project at hand. Prepare a team to meet with that representative such as the chief, chief financial officer and the project manager. Any community partners you may have for that project should have someone at that meeting as well. 

6. Create a competitive application. From you case statement for funding create a complete, researched, planned and carefully developed project and follow the directions provided by the funder carefully

7. Look for alternatives. Community foundations are another alternative source to the corporate foundations. These foundations are developed to assist in funding individual community needs. Each one has its own set of funds and priorities. You may locate your community foundation at this website. http://www.foundations.org/communityfoundations.html

8. Look at your local foundations. Across the country, many cities and communities have developed their own police foundations. Los Angeles, Atlanta, and New Orleans are among those who have raised funds to create an income stream under a special foundation incorporation. The IACP has a special section on their website dedicated to police foundation development. To research these options go to www.iacp.prg/policefoundation 

9. Cultivate your options. When seeking funds from the private world of philanthropy, you must learn to cultivate your relationship with the community. Fund development requires personal relationships with your corporations, businesses, chambers of commerce, manufacturers association and the community at large. 

Successful departments will have someone who works on this aspect throughout the year in community development. These organizations and institutions need to know and understand your department and its budgetary needs. Every community needs and wants safety for quality of life. Defining how the police department can assist in managing and maintaining that safety is critical.

To learn more about foundations,fund raising, free training, and resources, you can go to the Foundation Center website http://www.foundationcenter.org/getstarted/learnabout/foundations.html . The more you understand about private foundations the more successful you will be in obtaining the resources you need for your department.

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