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SLED grants can make IT acquisition possible

May 28, 2024 | Chauncey Kehoe

Vendors can help navigate the grant process

The grant-seeking process in state and local government agencies can benefit greatly from the assistance of vendors who possess expertise in navigating this process. Despite the availability of funds to support initiatives and address funding gaps in existing programs, as many as one-third of government agencies do not take advantage of grants. Vendors can provide valuable guidance to these agencies, directing them towards overlooked resources and aiding them in their pursuit of grants.

Let's examine the significant role that vendors can play in the process of seeking grants for SLED agencies.

Biggest SLED grant hurdles: Complexity and awareness 

A considerable percentage of eligible agencies don’t take advantage of grant opportunities. According to GrantStation, among government funding sources, state government application rates (74%) were higher than those of local government (71%) or the federal government (64%) at the end of 2023. That means as much as one-third of agencies do not apply for grant funding. Meanwhile Instrumentl found that “there are currently more than 900 federal grant programs offered by 26 different grant-making agencies.”

Why aren’t government agencies taking advantage of these opportunities? Main reasons include lack of expertise, the process can be too complicated and lack of understanding of the associated costs to write a compelling grant proposal.

But complexity isn’t the only reason government agencies don’t apply for grants. Often it boils down to a lack of awareness. Agencies that have not historically included grant requests in their funding strategies might not even know of available opportunities. 

Qualified vendors can provide opportunity information and assistance to agencies so they are better positioned to pursue them. 

A trusted vendor can help an agency identify grants and the correct government points of contact who manage those grants. This can save time, and provide additional business value.

Vendor-agency cooperation is fundamental to success

Awareness goes only so far. Agencies must have access to a knowledgeable grant writer and clear communication with their trusted vendors. 

For some smaller local agencies, an administrative employee may be completing the application. They will have to rely on vendors to help answer technical requirements. On the other hand, grant writers with more experience may meet with vendors during the application process, so that both parties understand the requirements for answering grant application questions. Regardless, vendors and agencies that make a coordinated effort can prepare compelling grant responses.

Some local commissions offer grant resources to third-party writers. The Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission is starting the Ready LDD Grant Writing Bench program. This Virginia program will provide on-call grant writers and project management support to its member communities of Alleghany County, Botetourt County, Craig County, the City of Covington and the Town of Clifton Forge.

3 questions to consider before pursuing grant opportunities

To help your agency customers decide if they are ready to start a grant-seeking program, there are a few things they have to address upfront:

  • What is their appetite for grant solicitation? Not every agency will want to direct personnel and financial resources to a grant application process.
  • What is their timeline? Grant-seeking success means coordinating requests with adequate preparation time, including internal planning and forecasting when a grant may be used.
  • Are they willing to have a grants conversation with you? A collaborative agreement with vendors during the grant application process can save time and help create a persuasive response to grant applications.

There are amazing growth opportunities within grants. Consider working with the right vendors to help you navigate the complex process and start building your pipeline of grant opportunities.

This blog was adapted from a commentary originally published in Washington Technology. For the full original commentary, click here.

 

This article is adapted from a recent Government Sales Insider blog post, published by immixGroup, Arrow's U.S. public sector practice. The original blog post can be found here.

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