Sometimes, one of the most challenging parts of getting funding for a project is finding a match for the project you are trying to fund. When you are ready to start searching for grants that match your funding needs, keep your needs at the forefront of your mind. That might sound silly, but many people become too absorbed with dollar amounts, and in doing so, they can easily overlook excellent matches. In our previous blog, part one of this two-part series, we discussed different types of funding sources (Federal funding vs. private funding) and gave a few basic questions to consider when beginning the search for funding. In this blog, part two of the series, we discuss these questions in greater depth and provide examples of how to find logical sources for funding.
What questions should I consider when beginning to look for grants?
- How much funding do we need?
The answer to this question is essential because it will determine where you search for funding. If you need a smaller amount of funding, for example, below $1,000, your funding choices will differ greatly than if you need $50,000 or $100,000. Small requests are usually best directed to local sources, while larger requests warrant applying to regional, state, and federal sources.
- Which grants are worth going for?
After you know how much you need, you should decide what types of grants to apply for. Would it be a better use of your resources (people, time, money) to apply for one large grant? Would it better to apply for several smaller grants? The answer to this may depend on your organization’s non-profit status, staff, expertise, and the dollar amount you are trying to receive.
- Who will benefit as a result of the project we are trying to fund?
The answer to this question will likely drive the brainstorming that will come during the next question. Will your project benefit a specific group of people, or will the benefits be more wide-spread? For example, if you are trying to fund a recreation center, will only certain groups be able to use the center? Will other towns be able to use the center? How many other recreation centers are in your geographical location? If there are many, you will likely serve a smaller population. However, if there are few, the number of people you serve might be larger. Will you have programs for everyone from infants to senior citizens, or will you focus on teens? Are there traditionally under-represented populations that may be of special interest to funding agencies? Honing in on who will benefit from the funding is an important step in finding funding.
- Which groups, corporations, etc. would be interested in funding this program/project?
Once you have identified who will benefit from your project, you can start considering who would be interested in funding your project. Keeping your needs in mind, consider which funding groups have goals that match your needs and goals.
Examples of finding logical sources for funding:
School Security and Emergency Preparedness. Consider the common needs in school security and emergency preparedness: updated locks on doors and/or windows; intercom and camera access to main entrances; signage to number entrances/exits and windows; surveillance and other camera security; training and preparation for staff; and school resource officers.
That is quite a list, and it’s a list with enough variety that certain entities besides state and federal departments of education might be willing to fund certain pieces of the list but not others. This is a great example of when it might be wise to look for funding from multiple sources.
Consider what groups have goals to support these types of needs. Hardware and home store corporations, like many other corporations, often have foundations that fund needs that align with their businesses. In this case, places like Lowe’s or maybe even the local hardware store would be willing to give a grant, in dollars or donated materials, to help fund the cost of locks for windows and doors or signage for entrances/exits. They might also be willing to fund wiring or electrical equipment needed for surveillance or camera equipment systems.
Insurance companies and/or their foundations are also logical matches for school security and emergency preparedness. Insurance companies have special interest in minimizing risk, so logically their foundations would support efforts to do so. Corporations like State Farm have foundations that assist with various aspects of this. Some insurance companies might even offer staff training or evaluation of an emergency preparedness plan that is already in place. They also might be willing to contribute grant money for other projects, like equipment.
The logical match for school resource officers might be the local police department. While police departments, especially smaller ones, might not provide “grants,” they might at least be willing to provide a certain amount of time or services at no cost or at a discounted cost. It may be possible to form a partnership with the local police department to have a school resource officer liaison, or someone who bridges the gap between the police department and the schools. (See sample Emergency Preparedness & School Security grants here.)
Fitness, Nutrition, Recreation. As essential parts of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it is not difficult for one to prove the importance of grants for fitness, grants for nutrition, grants for recreation, or grants for playgrounds. We see many requests for these types of grants, so we are highlighting this area as an example.
Many people would look for government and corporate funding that is specifically for fitness grants, nutrition grants, playground grants, and other types of recreation grants. While that is not a bad idea, there are more options.
Again, once you have decided how much you need, consider who might be interested in funding your project. Fitness, nutrition, and recreation hit home with many athletes. If you are fortunate enough to live near a large city that hosts professional sports teams, or if you are an area where a famous athlete hails from, consider whether or not those sports teams or athletes have a foundation that would be willing to sponsor, donate, or give a grant towards your funding needs. Many high-profile athletes have their own foundations set up for charitable giving. In some cases, you might consider matching the athlete to the particular need. For example, an Olympic swimmer might be more apt to support an aquatic center, whereas a football player might focus more on open field facilities for outdoor recreation through NFL Charities. If your need is more general, for example, you are trying to start a youth fitness program, any number of athletes from numerous sports might support that need. Keep an open mind, and explore all possibilities. (See sample Food & Nutrition or Parks & Recreation grants here.)
The task of exploring all grant possibilities across all different types of funding sources can be daunting. However, we can help you with that. Whether you are a municipality looking to improve your facilities, a non-profit trying to start a nutrition program, or a school looking for playground grants, we have the experts you need to help identify the grant opportunities that provide you with your best chances for receiving funding.
Contact us today, and one of our experts, Roland Garton, Rebecca Motley, or Carol Timms, will be in touch with you to discuss your needs and get you on the path to finding the funding you need.
Image credit: Bernhard Suter, kugelfish