Grant funding from a variety of sources can be helpful to complete community wildfire mitigation projects. Before seeking and writing grants, there are some things to consider to be successful.
A great project comes together first because a community has created a superb plan to identify critical needs that need to be addressed in your community. It is not a one-size-fits-all when looking to effect change. Each community’s needs are as different as the kinds of homes, infrastructure, vegetation, topography and climate of each locale. An effective pre-wildfire plan such as a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP), Firewise Assessment, or critical needs assessment needs to be collaboratively completed with all members of the community and the local Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) such as fire and EMT.
Study grant funding opportunities and reporting requirements. A community should decide how much time and expertise will be required, not only to apply for the grant, but to write the required financial reports after funding is obtained. Federal grants may provide a lot of money but they are very competitive, require a lot of technical expertise to write, a lot of time to manage the reporting requirements. They may require a Dun and Bradstreet (DUNS) number (to demonstrate nonprofit status) and System Award Management (SAMS) designation. If the community is a homeowners association, they may have an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) designation that would help obtain a DUNS number. State and local grants may have similar requirements because sometimes grant funding through them comes from the federal government. Both types of grants may also require environmental, historical and or cultural assessments before landscape/forestry projects are started.
Corporate grants and sponsorships may require that you have a nonprofit designation (501(c)(3)), but sometimes do not require a 501(c)(3), especially for smaller, easy-to-manage grants. Corporations may prefer to provide funding or volunteer assistance to communities where their employees live. I have worked with some communities that send out postcards regularly to ask where family members work to explore funding and sponsorship possibilities.
Grant funding can help communities achieve goals that they would not be able to accomplish on their own. With some determination, and willingness to share the workload, a community can through proper planning achieve their mitigation goals for homes (vent replacement programs, fence replacement programs and flammable roof replacement) and landscape through community chipping and clean up days and other projects. Check the community success story page on the Firewise website to learn more about successful use of grants for wildfire mitigation.