Private funding for public safety: Know where to look for grants

Understand the different types of private funding sources

While government programs are the primary source of grant funding for law enforcement, it is possible for police departments to obtain financial support from private family and corporate foundations. The process to identify and apply for foundation grants differs from that of government grant programs. Agencies should utilize particular strategies to approach private foundations, and department personnel will need to sharpen and expand their grant writing skills.

In this period of harsh budget cuts and diminishing government grants, the extra effort required to pursue private funding is worthwhile because it can lead to additional funding for vital public safety programs.

As a professional grant writer, I have secured numerous private and corporate foundation grants for law enforcement agencies. Experience, trial and error, and a little bit of luck made possible my success. You can employ my hard-won lessons to earn additional funding for your agency and count among your achievements winning private funding for public safety.

Understand the Different Types of Private Funding Sources
Private funding sources fall into three main categories: Corporate Foundations, Family Foundations, and Community Foundations. Each of these has different motivations and exhibits specific giving strategies and practices. Before approaching a foundation for funding, you should understand which type of entity you are dealing with. The following are summaries of the characteristics of each type of foundation, along with some specific examples of private funding sources that actually provide money to law enforcement agencies.

Corporate Foundations
Corporate foundations exist as the charitable arms of for-profit businesses. They are private foundations that follow the same rules as all other private foundations, but they receive their grant making funds from the contributions of profit-making businesses. According to the Foundation Center, in 2009 more than 2,600 corporate foundations in the United States made $4.4 million in grant awards.

Corporate foundations are closely tied with the business interests and consumer populations of their sponsoring companies. This means that if you are looking for money to start a K9 program in your department, you might find a funding source in dog food company’s foundation (Del Monte Milk-Bone has a Canine Heroes Police Dog Program). Likewise, your program to reduce violence against women might look for funding from the Avon Foundation, whose mission is to improve women’s lives.

Many corporate foundations give grant funding to law enforcement, security, and public safety programs. The following foundations make grants on a national level:

• Allstate Foundation provides grants for programs that seek to end youth violence, empower domestic violence victims, target hate crimes, and teach tolerance to youth.
• K9 Working Dogs International, LLC offers a K9 LEAP Grant Program that will provide funding toward the purchase of a K9 for law enforcement agencies.
• Met Life Community Police Initiative recognizes exemplary collaboration between community groups and police that yield significant public safety outcomes.
• Ms. Foundation seeks to support building the movement to end child sexual abuse.
• National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA) has Special Program Assistance for Needed Tactical Officer Assets (SPANTOA) for SWAT Teams throughout the United States. The program is designed to provide important life saving equipment to SWAT/tactical teams that may otherwise not be able to obtain this equipment.
• State Farm Insurance Company provides grant funding for safety, community development, and education. More information at .
• Wal-Mart Community Grants Program provides funding to government agencies to provide public services within the community.

In addition to corporate foundations that give throughout the United States, you will probably find foundations that serve your region in particular. Some national chains, in addition to their corporate foundations that serve the entire country, permit individual stores to award smaller grants within the community. Speak with the manager of your local stores about the possibility of providing this type of funding for your program. You could also speak with local small businesses owners who may be able to donate money or supplies/services to improve public safety in the community.

Community Foundations
Community foundations are public charities that seek to improve the quality of life in a specific geographic area. They are committed to helping their specific region meet local challenges and providing long-term benefit to its residents. Typically, individuals, families, businesses, and organizations pool their funds to create the community foundation. While grant making by community foundations accounted for ten percent of total foundation giving in 2008, your department might have a better chance with a community foundation that concentrates on your service area than you would have with a corporate or family foundation that has a national scope.

According to the Council on Foundations, there are more than 500 community foundations in the United States. Here are a few examples of community foundations that list “crime/violence prevention” or “domestic violence crime and prevention” in their fields of interest for grant funding:

• Anaheim Community Foundation in California has over $800,000 in assets.
• Community Foundation of Greater New Britain in Connecticut has $27 million in assets and awarded 69 grants totaling $830,000 in 2008.
• Greater Milwaukee Foundation in Wisconsin has $430 million in assets and awarded $32 million in grants in 2008.
• Triangle Community Foundation in North Carolina has $114 million in assets and gave 3,000 grants totaling $15 million in 2009.

Family Foundations
Family foundations are private foundations whose grant making funds are provided by members of a single family. Most family foundations are run by family members who serve as trustees or directors and who play a significant role in governing and managing the foundation.

There are over 38,000 family foundations in the United States, which gave $21.1 billion in grants in 2008. Giving by family foundations accounts for over 60 percent of total private foundation grant making in the United States, so it is wise to pay attention to this category of private funding sources. Chances are your department and/or program idea will fit the funding priorities of several family foundations. The following are examples of family foundations that make grants for crime prevention and public safety projects throughout the country:

• The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation has nearly $1 billion in assets.
• The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has $1.5 billion in assets.
• The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has over $5 billion in assets and gives $300 million in grants each year.

Many other family foundations focus their grant making on a specific geographic area. Make it a priority to identify any private foundations that serve your service area particularly, as your chance of receiving grant funding from local foundations are greater.

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