Some days it doesn't pay to get out of bed. You've received your grant for that massive project your school is planning to launch in the fall. You're drawing out a map for how the resources will be applied and, uh-oh, you find a glitch.
The teacher in room nine has told you her enrollment has changed—in fact, your teachers and your principal report that enrollment is up far more than anticipated.
Will the grant stretch to cover all the bases? Maybe not. This scenario presents a good lesson for learning about seeking and applying for matching grants.
A matching grant is an appeal to a foundation or corporation to provide support for a project that is mainly being funded by another foundation or government agency. Why would a foundation want to play second fiddle to the original funder? It may be a great opportunity for them to dip their toes into your school district to see if you are a worthy recipient for future projects. Or, the main purpose of your project might be so ideally suited to their agenda that they will step in and rescue what is clearly a project that is addressing those objectives.
Some foundations will not do this, but if you've developed the strong relationships I've been harping about for a year or so (where did the time go?), a partner may step in to help out. Don't neglect going back to your original funder, who may very well be able to increase support to fill the gaps. If not though, it's always a good idea to have another plan in place. Your city budget may be the place to go for the support; stay in touch with your business manager.
My approach, after many years of grants management, is to approach a big project as if it requires a basket of grants. From the first planning phases, you will apply for several grants to tackle the project in pieces.
Let's say you will be upgrading your reading program this year. You may carve the upgrade into pieces: professional development, curriculum development and planning, and books and software. You'll find many potential partners for a project like this in the Grants Database. They will be impressed by your attention to detail and ability to plan for the long run. You may use the word "sustainability" in your narrative to show that you are thinking ahead about how you're going to sustain the project once the first phase is complete (seed money is gone).
This is also a good time to review your entire school's fundraising plan. You do have one, right? There should be some good fund raising projects on the docket for the school year. One year, my school made an embarrassing amount of money selling chocolate Easter bunnies. The funds were ideal for filling in the blanks in our best-laid plans.
Stuff happens, and grant providers know this. If you are using the basket of grants approach, make sure your narrative explains this so the potential grantor knows you are planning a multi-phase approach to an important project. Some big federal grants require a complete section in the narrative that explains how you will sustain the project once the federal funds are gone. It's in their best interest to do this; they don't want to see their projects dry up and die.
Here are some resources for developing long-range plans for grant writing and fundraising campaigns:
Use Social Media for Fundraising - (a powerful new tool)
I'd love to feature your school in one of my blogs. Let me know if you have a good grants management protocol in place.