In 2023, an overnight camp in the Northeast received $150,000 to upgrade its security. These funds allowed the camp to replace fences, add a security exit gate, and install protective window coating on many of its cabins as part of a larger process to enhance the facility’s security and make its campers’ parents feel more at ease when they dropped their kids off for four weeks of camp.
These upgrades were possible because this overnight camp applied for the FEMA Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP). In 2023, these funds were a portion of the $270 million that were awarded to nonprofit organizations across the country for security enhancements. Thanks to the grant, many nonprofit organizations across the country installed one or more of the following:
- New camera systems
- Access control devices
- Cyber protection systems
- Window protection film
If your nonprofit camp does not know about this process, it should. And if your organization knows about this process and did not apply, you should rethink that decision for 2024. If your organization applied for these funds and was rejected, be ready to reapply — but only after you have had someone else review the grant to see if you can strengthen any areas to make a stronger argument.
Nonprofit camps’ security needs can often go unfunded because donors are interested in contributing to other more visible projects, such as cabins, pools, sports equipment, and venues. Alarm systems and cameras just aren’t as flashy. So organizations must dedicate substantial funds to these needs — and then only if the money isn’t required for other more immediate necessities.
The federal grant provides up to $150,000 for security needs with no strings attached, except for the requirement to complete the projects within a three-year time frame. This opportunity gives nonprofit camps that are not able to allocate funds to these needs a way to enhance their security for free and the ability to tell their camp parents and community that they are doing all they can to ensure the safety of their campers and staff.
Guidelines for the FEMA Nonprofit Security Grant and the application often become available in February, and submission deadlines are often in late April or early May of the same year. A common federal form, as well as a security assessment, is often supplemented with additional state-based requirements. (It is a federal grant, but nonprofit organizations apply through a state agency, which allows the state to impose additional requirements and forms.)
Once the guidelines for the grant are published, it is important to read what is required of an applicant and understand the nature of the submission process. (Sometimes it is an email, and in other circumstances it is an online form that you must register for.) Make sure you reach out to the state agency where your nonprofit camp is located about its specific requirements and deadlines (every state is different). Contact relevant vendors, gather all the necessary data and information, and then complete and submit the form(s). This process can be complicated and quite specific, so allow yourself plenty of time to accomplish the tasks involved.
Submitting an application does not guarantee your camp will secure a FEMA Nonprofit Security Grant. The federal process has become very competitive, even with a slight increase in available funds. In truth, less than 50 percent of all submissions receive grants. However, if your facility needs security upgrades, submitting an application for the possibility of attaining the monies required is worth the effort.
If you do want to apply for funds through the FEMA Nonprofit Security Grant Program but are not sure how, visit this website for additional information.
Adam Bronstone is a nonprofit grant consultant specializing in federal and state security grant opportunities. He works with clients to help them understand and strategize with respect to overall and specific security needs. Adam recently presented at the ACA, Southeastern Fall Camp Conference. Contact him at email@example.com.