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Top 10 Best Practices for Security Grant Writing

If you want to put your finger on the pulse of society, to identify where the real needs and challenges of today exist, the grants ecosystem can serve as a fantastic bellwether. Grants exist to meet public needs. This is why the groundswell of new funding opportunities in the United States for response-oriented security threats is a bittersweet development for people operating in the security environment.

On the one hand, the ever-growing list of grant opportunities in the security industry represents great opportunity for communities and security vendors. On the other, it is a sobering recognition of the increasing threat facing schools, municipalities, and the United States as a whole. Security professionals know that we can leverage this good to help address the bad, and funding exists today for qualified schools to obtain security solutions like access control systems, video surveillance, and even gunshot detection technology.

If you’re only just learning about the grants ecosystem, don’t worry, you’re not alone! Every day, we work with organizations that have never before leveraged the grants ecosystem. Researching and writing grants can be time-consuming, stressful, confusing, and, well, boring. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the top 10 best practices for grant-writing in the security industry to make sure your time is spent efficiently and (hopefully) to positive effect.

Read the fine print. Always. Every grant will include “eligibility requirements” in its request for proposals. Make sure you read these requirements carefully, because they will not only indicate whether or not you can apply, but also give hints as to if you can be competitive.

Research past awardees. Usually, grant-makers will not say the exact kind of institution they expect to fund. But you can glean this with a quick look at past awardees. If all 10 of last year’s awardees were private colleges, and you’re a fire department, you might reconsider applying—even if you are technically eligible.

Utilize letters of support. An investment in security for your organization is an investment in the safety and security of your whole community. The best way to show this—and bolster your application—is to collect and affix formal letters of support from organizational representatives, legislative leaders, and partners in your community.

Conduct a formal threat assessment. You know that your institution needs an improved security posture, but quite frankly, you’re a bit biased. At least, that’s how you’ll be seen by grant makers. That’s why a formal threat assessment by your local police department is an important, credible, and unbiased means of proving your need without relying on your own perspective alone. There are public resources available, too, such as this one from

Listen to the experts. If you’re a mid-sized to large organization, you probably have an in-house development, grants, or fundraising department. Meet with them. They are constantly in search of high-need projects for your organization and can assist you in the grants search. If you don’t have an in-house department, you still may have coworkers, board members, or partners with grant experience. Ask around—you might be surprised.

Set expectations. You probably didn’t pull a wheelie your first time learning to ride a bicycle. Grant-writing won’t be any different. Regardless of the grant you choose, there are going to be a lot of competitive applicants, many of whom are applying for their second, third, or even fourth year in a row. The grants ecosystem is dependent on perseverance, and most funded projects are not first-time applicants with no history of partnership.

Grant writing is a skill. Cultivate it. There is virtually no industry, function, role, or circumstance in which a background in grant-writing and research will not be an advantage. Virtually every organization in the United States with more than 100 employees is—to some extent—leveraging or contemplating leveraging state, federal, and local funding opportunities. The time you spend learning about the grants ecosystem is not acute or temporal; it will be an asset of great value for the rest of your career.

Understand your match. “Match” is the amount of funds your organization is required to obligate toward the total project/equipment budget. Most grant opportunities will indicate if they have match requirements and, if so, what percentage match is expected. Even for grant opportunities that do not have a match requirement, offering a small match as “skin in the game” can set your application apart and demonstrate your organization’s commitment to the work in question.

Don’t neglect leadership. Grants are, at their core, contractual agreements. In submitting a grant application, you are committing your organization to a set of activities and reporting requirements should you be funded. Accordingly, make sure to involve necessary leadership in finance, operations, and other executive functions to gain not only their approval, but their support for the application.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether in-house or out-of-house, there are countless resources to support you in the grants process. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.


Sonya Richmond is the founder of Sonick Group, Shooter Detection Systems’ exclusive grants partner. Sonick Group is contracted by SDS to assist prospective clients in the grants process. This article is not legal or financial advice. Make sure to follow all state, federal, and local regulations in researching, submitting, and administering all grants. To find out more or see if you qualify for grant writing services, fill out a pre-qualification form here.