Emergency Management Grant Writing is one of the key aspects for rural communities to obtain money and resources for various elements relating to emergency management and public safety. Emergency management grant writing would be used in various instances including installing warning sirens in a community that has tornado risks, giving local firefighters new PPE and bunker gear and even fixing roadways in relation to public works to prepare a community for winter. If it related to emergency management and public safety, emergency management grant writing is a wonderful tool – especially for rural and remote communities that don’t have a lot of money. In this article, we will be looking at the basics for emergency management grant writing specifically for a rural or remote community…


Emergency Management Grant Writing Basics


Emergency Management Grant Writing Basics: You need an objective

Before you consider emergency management grant writing for a rural community, an objective needs to be brainstormed and established. By an objective, I mean a reason for emergency management grant writing to be done in the first place. If you community needs a lot of stuff, don’t expect to get free money and resources just because of that. Many communities will have their grants rejected simply for not establishing a direct objective to why the grant is needed in the first place. If there is a need for ‘a lot of stuff’ for a rural community, identify what stuff is needed the most and go from there.


EXAMPLE: New-Town is a rural community located in the southern Midwestern portion of the United States (fictional community for the purpose of this article). New-Town lacks the financial resources to establish better emergency management and public safety protocols for the community due to its lack of business and revenue earning assets within the community. The citizens of New-Town are mainly within the poorer class of Americans and therefore a tax hike would be out of the question. New-Town needs better warning sirens because the old ones do not have remote activation features, the town has many potholes along the winter weather route roadway that needs to be prepared and the one ambulance that the community has is broke down and is beyond repair. As the emergency manager of New-Town, what objective can you discover here? The ambulance! The sirens work, they just don’t have modern features and the road can still be driven on regardless of the potholes. However, no ambulance in service places citizens of the community is extreme danger. So instead of writing a grant for ‘a lot of stuff’ needed in the community, the grant’s focus should be the ambulance. We will continue to use this scenario example throughout the rest of this article.


Emergency Management Grant Writing Basics: Identification requirements

As an American communities, before emergency management grant writing takes place, there are two things needed for the community and/or department writing the grant. These two important requirements are the DUNS and SAM Registration. The DUNS identification allows your community, department or organization to register with the federal government to obtain grants and contracts. The SAM Registration another registration that needs to be obtained through the federal government. Both of these required registrations are available online and do not cost anything to do. Failing to become registered with DUNS and SAM could cause you to be rejected for a grant and/or contract that you write and apply for. You should also contact your local and state government accounting resources to learn of anymore basic requirements before writing and submitting a grant.


Emergency Management Grant Writing Basics: Research your needs

When participating in emergency management grant writing activities, it is important that you research your grant needs so that you can strengthen the grant proposal. If you do no research the important reasons for your grant, the grant will likely be rejected. Some key aspects to include in your research includes negative impacts of rejection, stakeholders of the community, impact on mutual aid partners if you cannot obtain the monies or resources and a budget plan for spending and financial assets for the community, department or organization. Let’s take a further look at each of these suggested research nodes:


Negative Impacts of Grant Rejection – Research what the negative impacts of the grant rejection action would be. For New-Town, not getting a grant for a new ambulance would mean that the town has to wait even longer until funding can be established for the new vehicle. This would mean that citizens within the community would be in danger of not receiving emergency medical services in a certain amount of time. To aid with strengthening this particular research for the grant writing process, the community should include statistics on ambulance runs, types of injuries and any lifesaving efforts that have been established with the community’ ambulance service. You need to show the organization or entity giving the grants a reasonable display of why the ambulance replacement is so important.

Stakeholders of the Community – Define what stakeholders are present in the community. Often, you will think about your residents and citizens being stakeholders. They are stakeholders and important ones. However, every community in the United States that needs more money and resources also have these same type of stakeholders so often time, resident and citizen stakeholders is not enough to be listed. Other stake holders in the community include but are not limited to mutual aid and resource partners, businesses within the community, organizations serving the community, departments within the local government, recreational and environmental establishments and infrastructures. If there are critical infrastructure present including nuclear power plants and even a rail road system, this will significantly improve the stakeholder section of your emergency management grant writing process.

Impact on Mutual Aid Partners – For New-Town, the main impact on mutual aid partners will be the added work and stress they obtain for having to fill the gap that New-Town is currently experiencing. For example, Old-Town, the community closest to New-Town (35 miles away) will have to use its ambulance resources to respond to all New-Town calls through its established mutual aid partnership agreement. Old-Town is actually closer to New-Town than the county-based ambulance service. So now Old-Town must cover New-Town medical emergencies while also covering its own town’s medical emergencies. This will create concerns for Old-Town as well as New-Town and should also be listed during the grant writing process.

Budgeting – Budgeting is one of the most important research items of an emergency management grant writing process. Don’t expect to get money handed to your community without having a proper budgeting and financial plan in place and the ability to define such plan. If your community has no budgeting plan or financial aspects of the community is chaotic – those areas need to be corrected before you even consider writing a grant. At many times, errors in budgeting and financial planning for a community will be a key factor in the rejection of a grant proposal. Your community should seek support from legal and accounting experts to better this elements – many of them will most likely offer discounted or even Pro-bono work to your community due to spending constraints. Some of them will even write the grant for you at no cost! Research is important here – make sure you are doing it.


Emergency Management Grant Writing Basics: Research a funding source

Researching a source for funding or granting your community money, resources and/or equipment is going to be the timeliest and challenging aspect of the emergency management grant writing process. You need to find out who you will propose the grant to. This involved research because you might not be qualified for a lot of the more well-known grant proposal sources. The key sources for grants will be federal and state government partners and corporate and organizational partners. Contact state and federal affiliates and partners and request funding information. Look for local and other organizations and corporations who perform activities in issuing grants especially for rural and remote areas concerning public safety and emergency management. If you find a potential grant source, research the RFP (Request for Proposal) information that they will likely have available. This will identify important information and extra requirements for proposing a grant to such organization or entity. Many entities have many different requirements in place so that they can ensure their money is being used legally and wisely. If you fail with a proposal, keep trying and don’t give up!


Emergency Management Grant Writing Basics: Preparing the grant

Now it is time to write and prepare the grant! Important: Most grant rejections are due to grantees failing to provide the requirement documentation and also failing to follow instructions. Be prepared to read a lot of information and don’t just double check your grant once, double check it twice, three times, four times or more. Make it perfect to increase your chances of getting approved for the grant. Some of the instructions will be required to perform and some of them will just be suggested to perform. Try to meet all instructions and suggestions. However, if your community cannot meet some suggestions, try to attach documentation on why the community cannot meet them. This is the time to be innovative and think outside of the box so that you can meet as many (if not all) of the requirements and suggestions listed for proposing the grant you are requesting.


Keep in mind that there is often a deadline for grant proposals and if you miss the deadline, you might as well give up on that grant. Efficiency is important when partaking in emergency management grant writing activities. Research, develop, write and review the plan before you propose it before the deadline occurs. Give yourself plenty of time so that when you review your work, you will have time to make any corrections and provide any additional information that will help the grant be approved. Whoever is writing the grant needs to understand the basics of technical writing because often times, there will be required formatting for the grant document. In most cases, you will need to provide a narrative for the grant – this is an important part because it tells a story of why your community needs the money or resources you are applying for. Your narrative is meant to win over the entity you are trying to get the grant from. Before you submit, double check again and make sure the documents are professionally developed and then submit and propose the grant.


Emergency Management Grant Writing: The ending results

The will be the result of either being awarded the grant or being denied the grant. If denied, this often can cause a community to give up. That should not happen! Not every grantee is going to be approved – there is not enough money in the world to make that happen. Don’t give up if your grant proposal is denied, just find another source and try again. Try, try and try until you finally do get awarded a grant. Once you are actually awarded a grant, there are still several steps that you MUST take. You must account for any monies and resources obtained through the grant award – keep receipts and documents in an organized fashion and prepare to be audited, because it might happen. If you fail an audit, you might have to pay back the grant money and that would be a horrific ordeal to experience. Also, if you told the source of the grant how the award would improve certain aspects of the community, be ready to prove it after you gain the reward. If you don’t keep your word, don’t expect everything to work out. If you are unsure that you can promise something, don’t promise it in the first place – that is a golden rule of grant writing.


Emergency Management Grant Writing Basics Recap

Let’s recap the process of emergency management grant writing procedures:

  1. Create an objective by discovering a grant need and the stakeholders the need is for
  2. Identify the requirements of proposing a grant for your community
  3. Research the needs of the grant and key factors that will result in getting and not getting the grant
  4. Find and research a funding source and any additional requirements/suggestions they have
  5. Prepare and write the grant
  6. Double check the grant
  7. Double check the grant, again
  8. Submit and propose the grant and await results


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About the Author

Shawn J. Gossman
Shawn J. GossmanB.S., M.S., M.B.A., SEM, PDS
Shawn J. Gossman is an article and publication contributor of rural and remote-based emergency management, continuity and public health topics. Shawn holds a Master of Science concentrating in Emergency Management and a MBA in Hazardous Environment Logistics and Supply Chain Management. Shawn is dedicated to helping rural communities and organizations be a part of the Whole Community approach of National Preparedness.