There are often funding opportunities that are unique to the area that you work in. Local USDA Resource Conservation Districts often have funding that will support youth projects. Contact your local office to find out about opportunities. Find out general information on USDA Resource Conservation Districts. The Federal Highway Administration provides funding through State Department of Transportation Agencies for funds that support Safe Routes to Schools. For general information, visit the Safe Routes to School website. Local funding availability and process for projects differs by state. Local businesses, foundations, and government are also possible funding sources. The following provides information on how to go about finding out more information on your local funding sources.
Reach out to Corporations and Businesses
Ask if any of your members work for companies that have gift-giving programs and might be interested in underwriting your project. Many companies have such programs and especially enjoy giving to educational purposes. Ask your contact to participate as much as possible in the grant-request process, as companies tend to be more generous towards the requests of their own employees. Depending on his or her interest level, a contact can do as much as approaching the company in a face-to-face meeting or as little as co-signing a letter you have drafted. Even doing as little as stapling their business card to the letter may increase your chances of success.
Don’t forget local businesses, even if they don’t employ anyone involved in your school. Local businesses may have had previous contact with your school, and possibly the owners’ children (or even the owners themselves) have attended the school. Target several local businesses, call ahead to find out when the owner/manager will be there, and send one or two people to make a personal visit. Keep in mind that small businesses are just that: small. They don’t have the kind of money that large corporations do, so it is better to ask for only modest sums, such as funds for a specific, small component of the project.
Finding funding for your project is a process. Depending on your circumstances, it may be a very short one or a very long one. There are two final tips to remember:
Be creative in expressing your appreciation to donors. Invite them to any important project activities, and try to involve the children in making thank-you notes, a big plaque, a progress scrapbook with photos, a photo calendar, or a piece of art that can be given to donors. People love to get things made by the children, and the children will learn a small lesson in gratitude. Giving your supporters something that they will like to look at frequently or display in their office may help to build a lasting relationship between their company and your project/organization.