Best practices in grant writing

Grant Writing has a set of basic rules for creating a successful application.  Much of it is unwritten in the request for proposal or funding notice.  It is presumed that the writer or applicant knows the rules and tricks of the trade.  Most of us come to grant writing when someone hands you a funding announcement and is sure you know how to get the money. I began grant writing many years ago when the job I was hired to do was almost out of grant funding and needed to continue.  Then grant writing became a survival skill.

Writing a grant is far more than just asking for the money “because you need it”. It is a carefully developed business negotiation brought to fruition through a skillfully executed business proposal. Seeking grant funding begins with careful planning and assessment of your department. Attempting to “chase the money” will only result in a turndown from the prospective funding.  Whether you are seeking Federal, State or private funding you must complete many task up-front to prepare for grant funding.

Best Practice #1: A police department must begin with a department-wide approach to planning and assessment. Most departments now understand the value of strong strategic planning. Assessment of assets and resources, policing strategies, community needs and issues lead the department to defend and justify their true identified needs to the funder.  Outcomes assessment and Cost Benefit analysis of current policing strategies uncover what is working and not working. It also identifies where the department’s gaps are in funding.

Best Practice #2: After planning is completed, then the department can begin to develop a case for funding for each of the identified needs in the plan. This plan will lead the department to understand and articulate what resources and assets the department brings to the funding table. It justifies the need for the project, initiative, as well as the tools technology or personnel needed to implement the project.

Best Practice #3: Keeping the department records current and up-to-date on your crimes data, community needs data and internal processes data can lead to understanding your department’s outcomes, outputs and successes. It also brings to the front those issues which need to be enhanced or addressed.  This assessment process is one that the funder assumes you complete on at least an annual basis.  An annual report progress and outcomes report may be used to provide required information to the funder.

Once these processes are complete, the department is then ready to move forward to creating a competitive grant application.  Most of the work is already completed. Locating a funder and an open solicitation is the next step.

Best Practice # 4: Define the purpose of the grant project by creating a compelling problem statement. A solid grant proposal begins with a solid problem statement. Drawing from you case statement; describe the problem in terms of why is it an issues. What is the target of the problem? What is the community impact? What data and evidence do you have to back up your problem description?

Best Practice # 5: Using sound reasoning and good business development principles build a project description which include sufficient details for clarifying to a grant reviewer an image of the project from start to finish. Include good reasons for funding the project. Develop a solid and cost-effective plan of action. Develop a budget which addresses the entire project, start-to-finish. Include all income and expenses from your department, the funders’ contribution and any other income, assets or resources the ENTIRE project will use to assure implementation.  Be concise, clear and to the point

Best Practice # 6: When you have completed your proposal, hand it to someone who does not work with you or in your field. Answer any questions they have about the project and include that clarification in your application. Re-read the funding announcement side-by-side with the request for funding. This process will assure that you have not missed anything essential to the success of the grant application.

Finally, take a look back through the grant writing advice on It will offer you a good, free grant writing class you can take to the bank.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me here. 

Wishing you a wonderful summer season!

Recommended for you

Copyright © 2023 Police1. All rights reserved.