Grants: Where to Find Them

In past issues we have discussed aspects to grant writing. In each of these articles I have mentioned how knowing the process is important. This has included forming a grants committee and other essential aspects prior to finding and submitting grant applications. The next step in this process is finding the grants themselves. image

Grants are normally found based on who funds the grant. This can be categorized in one of the following areas:

  1. Federal Government: Grants that are originated and given by the federal government. These normally are very competitive, have strict guidelines, but can have broader objectives — arenas they are willing to fund. An example of this is the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG).
  2. State Government: Grants in this type originate from the state government. These grants range in their competitive nature depending on the state and have strict guidelines. Normally states limit grants to departments, which have lower annual operating budgets.
  3. Foundation/Business Grants: Businesses and Non-Profits often create foundations for various reasons. One of these reasons is to offer grant funding. In other situations, businesses simply offer their grants through their business via a department within their business.
  4. Local Grants: In various cases, local agencies or groups will offer grants. These can be competitive if the objectives are broad to minimal competitiveness when the objectives are strict. However, these agencies generally do not have much ability to give guidance in the process.

Federal Government

Most federal government grants can be found through searching the website On this website, you can search with keywords such as fire department, firefighter, rescue, etc. This website though is not for the faint of heart. Often this site produces many results and requires thorough review of each option to determine if it is for you. Read the request for proposals, as there are often grants that are not specific to the fire and EMS service that you may still qualify to apply.

Often time you can find third parties, such as grant writing organizations that will have an email service.  This is another option for finding grants. They will send you an email every so often with grants that they found and will share them with you.

State Government

State government grants can be harder to find than the Federal government grants. In terms of fire and EMS grants, contact your State Fire Marshal’s Office. They are normally the source for these types of grants. Otherwise states normally have a designated site as well. For North Carolina it is the Community Resource Information System (CRIS) handled through the State Office of Budget and Management. The website is

Foundation/Business Grants

Researching foundation and business grants takes a lot longer in terms of time. There is not a single repository as there is with the federal government and most state governments. What I encourage a new grant writer to do is to initially review businesses and foundations within their first due jurisdiction.  Then do searches for that business or foundation online to see if they have grant funding. It is important to start within your jurisdiction as they have more vested interest in your agency since they are protected by your department. Then proceed to searching for businesses that aren’t in your first due area. 

When I do these searches, I will spend time on most of the general search sites such as Google and Bing.  I will search topics such as “US Cellular and grants,” “Firehouse Subs and donations,” etc. This will undoubtedly take some time.  Over time you will learn keywords and such that will hint to whether you should proceed or not. 

Local Grants

Many times local agencies provide grants. These are not as easy to find but can be of great success. So where do we find these? 

First, read the newspaper. Many agencies at a local level announce things to the newspaper for printing.  There you can often find information about the agency and the basics for the grant. This will direct you to either continue searching for it or to discontinue due to differing objectives and such. Secondly, listen to local radio stations. Most local radio stations have a community time where they announce things to this purpose or have the local agency come on the air and speak more in depth about it. 


There is a lot of work involved to find grants. Use the websites listed above. Do not forget to also work within agencies like the Chamber of Commerce to network and help you find out about more grants. Good luck!

Until next time, be safe!

David Hesselmeyer, M.P.A., has been in emergency services for 16 years. Currently he is a firefighter, rescue technician, paramedic, and North Carolina Executive Emergency Manager. Hesselmeyer is the owner and primary consultant with On Target Preparedness (OTP) which contracts with emergency services agencies and non profits to assist in risk assessments, plan writing, plan revision, exercise development, etc. He currently volunteers with Buies Creek Fire Rescue and works part time with Harnett County EMS. He can be contacted at or visit his website at

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