Does your head spin when you think about the grant-seeking process? The process is usually more involved than finding funding; a plan is needed for managing the program once money is received. It's important for municipalities to examine their needs and determine where grant funding fits in order to map out an action plan.

Experts including Kathleen Capristo, Administrator, Colts Neck Twp.; Joe DiFranco, Sr. Director, Bruno Associates; Paul Pogorzelski, PE, Van Cleef Engineering; Intashan Chowdhury, Administrator, Prospect Park Boro.; & Hector Olmo, Administrator, Paramus Boro, discussed the grant application process and how to take advantage of grants within municipalities at the 2022 NJMMA Mini-Conference in Point Pleasant, NJ.

Grants are by definition direct monetary assistance to an organization to undertake a specific project or program. In order to receive a grant, organizations must submit an application or proposal. It’s important to recognize that a considerable amount of research and planning is necessary in order to submit a strong grant.

Below are a few steps to take when seeking out and applying for grants:

  1. Define your project goals and establish your needs.
  2. Search for grant opportunities and identify any potential funding sources.
  3. Reach out to the associated grant contact to learn the application process and eligibility requirements to maximize your chances of award selection.
  4. Begin to write your grant proposal, utilize this framing:
    1. Introduce your municipality
    2. Provide a summary of your project or need
    3. Identify problem and conduct need assessment
    4. State your project objective, outline your funding needs and proposed project budget
    5. Provide full project evaluation/review.
  5. Thoroughly review and make any edits to your grant application(s).
  6. Submit your applications by the indicated due date.

“Sometimes municipalities are hesitant to take on the grant process because it can be cumbersome and time sensitive while we are also trying to juggle many other responsibilities,'' said Intashan Chowdhury, Administrator of Prospect Park Boro. “This is why it is important to take steps to determine if someone in-house or an outside consultant would work best.”

Municipalities should consider training a member of their team to seek out and submit grants or as Chowdhury said, other options for consultant work can be explored. Only eight percent of grant proposals receive funding, and with odds like that, steps should be taken to make sure applications are up to par.Through hiring a professional grant writer, municipalities can increase chances of getting that much-needed funding, since they know the nuances involved in grant proposals and can make your proposal shine.

All in all, grants are a great way to obtain more funding and provide the opportunity to alleviate strain on municipalities. While the process itself is not easy, the opportunities that come from them can truly make a difference.

Check out the New Jersey League of Municipalities Grant Resource Center here: