I’ve been writing these blogs as if you are rock solid on who the potential grantor is going to be. For some grant seekers, the hardest part is finding a willing partner. As you go along and develop relationships with foundations, that question will become easier, you may find your source is so enamored of you and your school that they have stepped up and offered to help on a regular and scheduled basis.
If you’re just starting out though, the process of finding a source can be daunting. You’ve explored the online databases. Some have steep subscription costs. These fees may not be feasible right now, you haven’t even started to write your grant yet. Your principal may not want to give you a budget for an online database subscription. They will change their mind when they see the amount of data you can acquire from the School Funding Center site. After you’ve identified one or two possibilities, every foundation and corporation has its own philanthropy section on its website. This wasn’t always the case. I used to spend a great deal of time on the phone calling companies and asking them to send out the funding guidelines for their philanthropic division.
There are three things to know as you set out to find a source of funds for your project.
1. Make sure you are seeking funds from an organization that provides grants for public schools (I’ll assume that’s who you are for now, but you’ll be able to tailor this to your own needs if you’re not). Some foundations will only provide funds for a 503(c) corporation. This is an IRS designation for non-profit organizations, not for cities and towns. These are considered government agencies and fall under a different funding category. More and more foundations are moving into the public education sphere, it pays to stay up to date.
2. It’s best to start with a foundation or corporation that has a local presence. It may be that your target foundation only provides support for schools in St. Louis. This is great if you live in St. Louis, but if you’re writing from a mountaintop town in Montana, it’s not going to do you much good. Make sure their interests align with yours. If they only pay for STEM projects, don’t be writing for library books (unless you’re developing a STEM section for your library).
3. Most corporations and foundations only provide minimal support for a first try. If you are contemplating a big project, it would be a good idea to see if you can cut it into pieces that are manageable, or to scale the project out over time. You might start with an after school program for 15 students to last for 10 weeks. If successful, you’ll be expanding it to more students and for longer periods of time. Grantors like this approach, it shows you are thinking this through very carefully.
The database I recommend for your search can be found here:
School Funding Center – there is a free trial, you can get a sense of the huge number of sources they identify and they describe the search process very thoroughly. I also like it because it’s kept up to date. Other databases cost much more and may be more difficult to navigate.
Start your search by narrowing down your location. The database lets you filter by a number of categories, start with selecting your state. You’ll find the names of huge corporations that you never knew were nearby. Most multinational companies have offices strategically located throughout the country. There may be a satellite right in your home town and the company is very interested in funding projects in their own communities.
If you sign up for the free trial for the School Funding Center, you can filter by state, then type of school (private, public, etc.) and type of program (special ed, after school, etc.) A number of possibilities will be returned. If you subscribe, and the fee is minimal, many more possibilities will be revealed.
Other reasons to subscribe (and this is a shameless plug, I can’t help myself, I vowed to provide helpful information so here it comes):
- Searchable Online Database containing 350,000+ grant opportunities representing over $25 billion dollars in available funding in Federal, State, and Local Grants.
- Filter Your Search by State, Category, Recipient Type, and Keyword to quickly zero in on your best opportunities.
- Comprehensive Grant Details: everything you need to determine your optimal grant opportunities and to submit your proposal.
- My Bookmarks: bookmark grant listings to review at your convenience.
- My Saved Searches: save your custom grant searches so you can quickly perform your search again on subsequent visits.
- Free SFC Grant Alerts to keep you abreast of new/updated grant opportunities
- $10,000 Guarantee for 12-Month+ subscriptions.
- Free eGuide: “Write Successful Grants for Your School” by Don Peek ($37 Value) and other helpful downloads.
- Support: via Live Chat, Email, and Phone.
As the weeks progress, I’ll use examples directly from the database to show you how to filter your request and find the perfect foundation (source) of funds for your program. And, as always, I’ll give you tips and tricks for success that have been developed the hard way, over time and by trial and error (the only way I know).
Comment on this blog, do you have questions for me?