How to get quality grant-related training
In-person events, such as workshops and conferences, are resources to look into (more about that later) but much of what you really need to know about federal grants (including financial and legal issues) is available through online training
Grant-related training is an important component of your job as your agency’s grant manager. It’s especially important for anyone new to grants, but even longtime grant professionals need to update their knowledge and expertise to stay current with funding issues and best practices.
The good news is there is a lot of great information available, and you can easily access it while sitting behind your computer. In-person events, such as workshops and conferences, are resources to look into (more about that later) but much of what you really need to know about federal grants (including financial and legal issues) is available through online training.
Grants.gov has presentations on just about every topic you can think of. There is a very good one detailing the basic requirements needed before you can apply for a federal grant, including DUNS registration, the annual SAM registration, your EBIZPOC, the MPIN, and a lot more (if you don’t understand those acronyms, you definitely need to check this out). They also show you how to navigate through grants.gov — searching for funding opportunities, what a funding opportunity is, and how to work on the application.
The Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs has online training for Grants Financial Management. That particular training requires you to have already been awarded a DOJ grant. This is a must-do, especially if you are new to grants. Make sure your financial people are included in this training, since they will need to meet the requirements for reporting and auditing. OJP also has a very good presentation that explains the various types of federal funding available, such as Formula Grants, Congressionally Directed Awards, Discretionary Grants, Cooperative Agreements, and Payment Programs. Familiarize yourself with all of these opportunities, some of which may be new to you.
The US Office of Management and Budget is another good resource of information on federal grants. A listing of pertinent circulars and other documents can be found on their website.
If you find an opportunity to attend a grant-related workshop given by a federal agency, sign up! They don’t do as many as in years past, but when they are offered, you need to act fast. This is particularly important for anything related to the financial side of grants.
If you are seeking a local or state grant, call those agencies directly and see if they have any training available that will assist you in submitting an application or developing a program to fit their requirements. Most state agencies have guidance on their website that is useful, and they may provide a list of resources that will also help.
As your agency’s grant manager, you’ve probably received numerous advertisements offering a variety of grant-related training events. Some are even specific to law enforcement and they all sound great, exactly what you need. These cost money, typically a few hundred dollars, although some can be in the thousands, and they often require some out-of-town travel.
There are very good training agencies that will give you valuable information and insight to make you a better grant manager, something that is well worth the money, but do your research before you spend a dime! Call the Better Business Bureau in the town where the training agency is headquartered to see if there have been complaints against it. Call them directly and ask questions about the training they provide. Do an online search to see if anyone has written a bad review of the business. Do the same for anyone listed in the advertising or literature, including the CEO and other management staff as well as their trainers.
This advice is a warning from someone who has been there. I attended a training event where the presenter never showed up and repeat calls to the company (in another state) were fruitless. There were about 12 other police grant people in attendance, many of them new to the task and desperately in need of training. Thankfully I hadn’t sent the registration fee of $495 in advance, but others weren’t so lucky. That’s a lot of money for a small agency to lose. It wasn’t until after this happened that I went online and saw this company had a bad BBB record in its state, had changed its business name a couple of times (with bad reviews for the other companies), and I found several complaints written about them for the same issue I had. Lesson learned.
One good way to determine the value of available training is to call other law enforcement grant folks near you. Get their recommendations, especially for anything that costs money. If your agency is part of your local government, call the city grant department and see if they provide training or can point you in the right direction. Look at grant-related business associations (including the Grants Professional Association and its state chapters) to see what they have available or recommend. These agencies often have articles on their websites you will find valuable. If you have made contact with other grant or law enforcement people through social business sites such as LinkedIn, ask them if they have any recommendations.
Read everything you can about grants, especially if you are new to it. A trip to your local Barnes and Nobel may not yield very much (although there are some good books available if you look hard enough), but the internet is full of resources you can access for free. Make it one of your top priorities to educate yourself as much as possible so you can be a valuable resource to your agency.